What Did the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 Do for Whistleblowers in the Financial Services Industries?
Whistleblower laws were first introduced during the time of the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln introduced the idea as a way to encourage citizens to report theft and fraud being committed against the government by Army contractors. Since that time, the laws have been expanded in a number of ways. Of all the different laws that have been created for the purpose of facilitating whistleblower lawsuits, perhaps the most important of all came with the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This law provides specific protections for whistleblowers who work for corporations. The Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz are experienced whistleblower attorneys with considerable experience in successfully representing corporate whistleblowers.
Where previous whistleblower laws were written to provide protections for those who have been fired wrongfully, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act provides protections for those who are still employed by the company that is being accused of wrongdoing. The act sets up four specific requirements that have been widely praised as providing protections for whistleblowers. These include:
- A requirement that all companies that are publicly traded have audit committees in place that provide specific procedures for the filing of internal whistleblower complaints, as well as to protect employee confidentiality for those who are filing these complaints.
- The establishment of specific standards of ethical behaviors for lawyers whose clients or employers are acting inappropriately.
- Changing the definition of obstruction of justice and criminal retaliation against whistleblowers who provide truthful information about questionable or fraudulent behavior.
- The creation of an equivalence between a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act with a violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Though these requirements may seem meaningless to an outsider, for whistleblowers they represent an enormous difference in providing protections against retaliation for those who report fraudulent activity on the part of their employer. The changes that Sarbanes-Oxley created specifically benefitted those who work for corporations that work in the financial services industries, as well as other corporate environment. They were modeled on the laws that were in place in other industries, including those established for environmental protection, airlines safety, and governmental agencies.
If you are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit under the rules established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, you should be aware that prevailing will entitle you to be made whole under the law. This means that you can not only be provided with payment of special damages for emotional distress, but also to back pay, attorneys’ fees, and reinstatement if you have been a victim of retaliation. The law is extremely complex, and there are specific steps and procedures that must be followed in order to protect your rights. It is strongly advised that before doing anything, you consult with an experienced whistleblower attorney to learn more about your rights and the process that the filing involves. The attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz are thoroughly experienced and have extensive knowledge and success in pursuing whistleblower lawsuits, and are ready to help. Call us today.