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Employment Law Labor Law Regulation Whistleblower Laws

The Scope of the Dodd-Frank's Whistleblower Protection

Is a corporate employee who reports an employer's possible violation of the securities laws to a supervisor or internal compliance officer — but not to the SEC — considered a "whistleblower" entitled to protection from retaliation under Dodd-Frank? Courts that have considered this question have reached differing conclusions.

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As part of its comprehensive reform of the U.S. financial regulatory system, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 enhanced and expanded pre-existing protections and bounty incentives to encourage whistleblowing, including those contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). It did so by amending the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) to add a new provision, § 21F, titled “Securities Whistleblower Incentives and Protection.” This new section, however, left open a fundamental question that has engendered significant dispute: Is a corporate employee who reports an employer’s possible violation of the securities laws to a supervisor or internal compliance officer — but not to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — considered a “whistleblower” entitled to protection from retaliation under Dodd-Frank?

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