Houston Texas Business Lawyer

Supreme Court Rules on Whistleblower Protection Limits

Houston whistleblower attorney

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Last month, we reported on the proceedings by the Supreme Court regarding the protection of corporate whistleblowers from employer retaliation. Now the court's decision is final, as issued in a 9 to 0 opinion by Justice Ginsburg.

The decision was based on "textualism," which interprets the law exactly as it appears in the text. In this case, the text is clear cut. There are no loopholes or grey areas that whistleblowers can take advantage of. That's why in the event of employer retaliation, you should speak to an attorney who understands the complex legal system involving whistleblowers.

The decision is final

The recent Digital Realty V. Somers case has prompted an unfortunate ruling by the Supreme Court. Following the ruling, corporate whistleblowers are no longer protected from employer retaliation unless they report wrongdoings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to an article by the LA Times.

This means that if an employee reports the wrongdoing of his or her supervisor to the top company executives, he or she could be terminated. That's exactly what happened to a San Francisco executive and vice president of a real estate investment trust. After reporting a hidden cost overrun to the higher-ups in the company, he was fired.

In defense of corporate whistleblowers, the Ninth and Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that after reporting fraud internally, employees are protected by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, a law  that was passed to protect consumers in wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The law vaguely states that employers who fire employees out of retaliation can face legal consequences.

However, the Supreme Court referred specifically to text in Dodd-Frank, that defines a whistleblower as someone who reports wrongdoing to the SEC. For this reason, the high courts, joined by liberal and conservative justices, ruled in favor of the San Francisco executive's employer.

How whistleblowers can protect themselves

The Supreme Court's ruling doesn't mean employees should remain silent. If you witness any fraud from your supervisor or higher-ups in your company, your first line of action should be to report problems to the SEC. This allows you to report wrongdoing as defined in the text of Dodd-Frank. If you're company retaliates, they can be held accountable for their actions.

A large, powerful corporation may have a slew of resources to protect themselves from legal consequences. That's why you should never handle a whistleblower retaliation case on your own. If you have been wrongfully terminated due to employer retaliation, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced attorney.

The attorneys at Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees from the wrongdoings of their employers. We understand the tactics that corporations use to silence whistleblowers and we are prepared to take them on. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.