Whistleblowers Whistleblower Awards

News & Analysis as of

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

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

How Much Is A Whistleblower Waiver Really Worth?

The Securities and Exchange Commission is aggressively interpreting and enforcing its rule against impeding whistleblowers. Rule 21F-17(a) provides...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 Settlements Put Severance Agreements Under Increased Scrutiny

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced settlements with two companies for using severance agreements that allegedly violated Rule 21F-17. Rule 21F-17 provides that “[n]o person may take any 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

Company Pays Penalty for Requiring Outgoing Employees to Forego Potential Whistleblower Awards

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced that it had levied a $265,000 penalty against an Atlanta-based company, claiming the company’s severance agreements undercut its whistleblower program. By signing the...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

This Week In Securities Litigation

The D.C. Circuit handed down the first circuit court decision ruling on the Appointments Clause question concerning the retention of SEC ALJs. The court concluded that there was no violation of the Clause....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 Issues Cease-and-Desist Order Against Severance Agreement Clause Limiting Whistleblowers' Rights to Recover Bounty Awards

On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist Order and imposed remedial sanctions against a publicly traded company for including language in its severance agreements requiring...more

Doctor Gets $4.6M for Blowing Whistle on Over-Compensated Doctors

Neurologist Dr. David Hammett will receive $4,590,000 as part of a settlement entered into by Lexington Medical Center (LMC) of West Columbia, S.C., and the federal government. Ironically, the hefty compensation comes as a...more

Prevailing in an Era of Regulatory Enforcement – Balancing Risk and Compliance [Expect Focus – Vol. II, July 2016]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT - - SEC Sanctions Unregistered EB-5 Investments Broker SECURITIES - - FINRA to Assess Member Firms’ Culture - SEC Seeks Fund Responses to Distribution-In-Guise Guidance...more

SEC Affirms Denial of Bounties to Three Purported Whistleblowers

On July 19, 2016, the SEC issued an order upholding the SEC Claims Review Staff’s (“CRS”) Preliminary Determination denying three claims for whistleblower awards. The SEC’s order explains how the claimants’ bounty requests...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

Ontario, Quebec Securities Regulators Announce Whistleblower Programs Launch

Securities regulators in Ontario and Quebec recently announced the launches of separate whistleblower programs in the two jurisdictions. While the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) whistleblower program (OSC Program)...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

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