News & Analysis as of

Time to Review Your Severance Agreements

In August 2016, the SEC issued cease-and-desist orders against two different companies for using severance agreements which required exiting employees to waive their ability to obtain monetary awards under the SEC’s...more

Update: Another SEC Enforcement Action on Whistleblower Waivers and Releases

Summary - Earlier this month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its second significant enforcement action against an employer based on confidentiality and release provisions that the SEC asserts...more

SEC Targets Employment Agreements Requiring Waiver of Whistleblower Awards

The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower continues to examine employee severance, settlement and confidentiality agreements for language that might chill reporting of securities violations to the SEC and other regulators. The...more

SEC Takes Aim at Anti-Whistleblower Employment Agreements

On August 15, 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its second fine in six days to a health insurer for allegedly creating severance agreements that illegally restrict former employees from collecting...more

Public Companies to Revise Employee Confidentiality and Severance Provisions

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued two Cease and Desist Orders that dramatically change the landscape for employee contractual confidentiality provisions, as well as for employee waiver and release...more

Standard Severance Agreements May Need to Be Revised

Many employers offer severance agreements to departing employees which, at least in part, are designed to protect the employer from disclosures of confidential information and from any future claims or recovery by the...more

SEC Continues To Scrutinize Separation Agreements

On August 16, 2016, the SEC announced that Health Net Inc. (Company) agreed to pay a $340,000 penalty to settle charges that it violated Rule 21F-17 by using severance agreements that allegedly prohibited its employees from...more

SEC Continues to Target Employer Agreements Restricting Whistleblower Rights

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) recently announced the settlement of two cease-and-desist proceedings against employers alleged to have unlawfully restricted employees’ rights to engage...more

SEC Enforcement Actions May Require Changes to Severance Agreements

Public companies should revisit their template severance agreements, in light of two recent orders by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Standard severance clauses covering (1) confidential information and (2)...more

SEC Continues Crackdown on Whistleblower Restrictions: Calls Qui Tam Waivers "Targeting"

The SEC announced its second enforcement action in a week against a company using severance or confidentiality agreements requiring employees to waive whistleblower bounties or their right to bring a qui tam action....more

SEC Whistleblower Enforcement Settlement Reminds Private Fund Sponsors to Review Organizational Policies and Procedures for...

A recent SEC settlement of whistleblower charges should serve as a useful reminder for private fund sponsors to conduct a comprehensive review of their policies and procedures. On August 10, 2016, the SEC announced that...more

SEC Settles Charges for Violation of Whistleblower Program’s Prohibition of Impediments to Communications Regarding Possible...

On August 10, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a settlement with BlueLinx Holdings Inc. concerning alleged violations of the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program’s prohibition on impeding whistleblower...more

SEC Fines Company for Agreements Restricting Whistleblowers

The SEC has fined an Atlanta company $265,000 for using various severance agreements restricting whistleblower activities. The Dodd-Frank Act added ’34 Act § 21F encouraging whistleblower programs....more

SEC Penalizes Company For Severance Language Purportedly Impeding Complaints

On August 10, 2016, the SEC announced that BlueLinx Holdings Inc. (Company) is settling charges that it violated Rule 21F-17 by requiring outgoing employees to waive whistleblower bounty awards in connection with severance...more

Review Severance Agreements For Unlawful Anti-Whistleblower Provisions

On Wednesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled with Atlanta-based BlueLinx Holdings over claims that the publicly traded building products distributor’s severance agreements stifle protected...more

Severance Agreements Violate SEC Whistleblower Provisions

The SEC has a robust whistleblower program which is considered an important adjunct to its enforcement efforts. To that end the Commission has participated in whistleblower cases as an amicus and brought actions regarding...more

SEC Bounty Hunters Take Heart: SEC Fines Company $265,000 for Using Severance Agreements That Provided a Waiver of any Monetary...

Wednesday, the SEC announced that an Atlanta-based company, BlueLinx Holdings, is settling charges that its severance agreements contained provisions that in its view might impede employees from communicating directly with...more

SEC Bounty Hunters Take Heart: SEC Fines Company $265,000 For Using Severance Agreements That Provided a Waiver of Any Monetary...

Today, the SEC announced that an Atlanta-based company, BlueLinx Holdings, is settling charges that its severance agreements contained provisions that it in its view might impede employees from communicating directly with the...more

Veil Parted on SEC Whistleblower Award

Early this year, the SEC announced it had paid a whistleblower award of “more than $700,000” to a company “outsider” who “conducted a detailed analysis” that led to a successful enforcement action against the company....more

SEC Whistleblower Chief Sean McKessy to Leave, Agency Announces

On July 8, 2016, the SEC announced the departure of Sean X. McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. Mr. McKessy was the first to hold that role and started his post in February 2011. Mr. McKessy is credited...more

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims For Lack Of Protected Activity

On June 22, 2016, Judge Daniels of the Southern District of New York dismissed SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that Plaintiff’s alleged internal complaints did not constitute protected activity, as they did...more

Whistleblower Concerns for Private Fund Advisers – Seven Mistakes To Avoid

As we have previously observed, private fund advisers face a difficult challenge when SEC guidance (in the form of a speech or a public enforcement order) indicates that certain long-standing practices may be contrary to the...more

The Whistle Blows Again: SEC Pays Second Largest Whistleblower Bounty Award

On June 9, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘SEC”) awarded the second largest whistleblower bounty – $17 million – granted under the Dodd-Frank whistleblower rules to date. Previously, the highest whistleblower...more

SEC Issues Near Record-Breaking Whistleblower Award

On June 9, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it awarded over $17 million to an ex-employee of a financial services firm. The SEC’s press release touts the award as the second-highest bounty ever handed...more

Substantial Awards Available for the Taking: SEC Announces $17 Million Whistleblower Award

On June 9, 2016, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced its second largest award under the agency’s Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program. This is the largest such award issued since the SEC issued a $30...more

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