Since businesses began, there have been questionable practices. There has been malpractice and misconduct. Since these practices popped up, there have been those who looked to right the wrongs – the whistleblowers. Employers have sought to strike whistleblowers down or keep them from reporting questionable practices.
That was the usual routine until 2010. In 2010, the largest overhaul of financial oversight and Wall Street came into play. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed. The Securities and Exchange Commission (or SEC) has much more power to investigate inquires and enforce penalties.
This act contained many protections that whistleblowers needed. One of these many protections is the idea that employers can’t take retribution for having a questionable practice investigated. Whistleblowers can now be represented by attorneys and call in practices they wish to report anonymously.
In addition, whistleblowers can earn money by reporting questionable practices. If an investigation results in a fine of $1 million or more, a whistleblower can earn between 10 and 30 percent of that fine. If that threshold is met, and other monetary actions are taken, whistleblowers can earn a percentage of those fines as well.
One law firm has taken many steps to make sure the Dodd-Frank Act is enforced – Labaton Sucharow. They began a whistleblower advocacy team, led by Jordan A. Thomas. Thomas worked at the SEC as the Assistant Director and Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel for the Division of Enforcement.
As part of this team, whistleblowers are able to enjoy all the protections of the Dodd-Frank Act. They also get to enjoy other options that allow whistleblowers to do their job. There are translators for whistleblowers working abroad that don’t speak English. There are three different ways the team can be contacted – through email, by the phone, or by electronic submissions through the Whistleblower Advocate program website. All whistleblowers are given privacy, and protected by the attorney-client privilege. In addition, the initial consultation is free for all whistleblowers.
This new act is already making whistleblowing more attractive to those who were unsure of whether to report practices. A whistleblower, who will remain anonymous to protect their privacy, has received $17 million as their fraction of the initial fine. This is the second largest reward that whistleblowers have received.