Since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, a number of federal courts have grappled with the scope of the Act’s new protections for employee “whistleblowers.” Until recently, however, no federal court of appeals had addressed the issue. In Asadi v. G.E. Energy (USA), L.L.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered the fray — and rejected the conclusion reached by every other court that had previously considered the question.
The plaintiff in Asadi alleged that his former employer had fired him for reporting his concerns about a potential violation of the securities laws to his supervisor and a company ombudsperson. The plaintiff thus claimed that he had been fired for engaging in protected activity under the Dodd-Frank Act, which, in part, prohibits employers from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or otherwise discriminating against a “whistleblower” for assisting or sharing information with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — or for “making disclosures that are required or protected” under the securities laws.
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