The law is clear on this point: If you are a whistleblower who reports a possible violation to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company cannot retaliate against you.
For example, as stated in the Dodd-Frank legislation that created the SEC whistleblower program, “No employer may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner discriminate against, a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the whistleblower.”
Depending on the exact facts at issue, if a company does retaliate against someone for making a lawful report, the company can be liable to the employee, having to pay back pay (or double that) and other compensatory damages. In some cases, punitive damages are also possible.
And the determination of damages for retaliation is distinct from the one used for determining damages relating to a reported violation. That means that it’s possible that someone can receive damages for retaliation, even if the SEC concluded that the whistleblower’s tip did not lead it to a securities violation. That is important in the context of a sexual harassment report because, even if the SEC may not find sufficient nexus between the allegations and a securities violation, it could still pursue a charge regarding the retaliation.
The real challenge for those who reported sexual harassment and retaliation may be that they’re going to have to prove a distinction between the harassment they endured before and after making a report, i.e., demonstrate that harassment at Time A happened, and the harassment at Time B wasn’t simply a continuation of the Time A harassment. Instead, it was related to the whistleblowing. But if that isn’t possible, remember that the SEC is not the only option for a sexual harassment complaint. Other agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state labor office may be able to take a complaint that the SEC will not. In other circumstances, our attorneys represent victims in Wall Street employment arbitration cases.
These are complicated, fact-specific decisions that you shouldn’t feel you have to make on your own. Instead, if you are being retaliated for whistleblowing for any reason, don’t hesitate: Talk to attorneys who work in this field to get a better understanding of your case. Our attorneys handle employment disputes, harassment claims, and reporting complaints to the proper agencies. The experienced securities attorneys at Silver Law Group can help. For a free, confidential consultation, contact us or call us today at (800) 975-4345.