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How the SEC Protects Whistleblowers Taking Professional Risk

It’s not easy to come forward with damaging information about your employer or colleagues. Crossing powerful people has consequences, especially when you’re reporting a violation of the law that exposes them to fines or prison time. Even if you’re clearly doing the right thing, you can be shunned, demoted, or even fired.

For that reason, the SEC whistleblower program has built-in safeguards intended to protect whistleblowers from that kind of retaliation. By default, the program protects whistleblower’ identities from disclosure, and if you have an SEC whistleblower attorney, you can have anonymity from even the SEC itself. The program also lets you sue your employer if you can show it retaliated against you.

Guarding Your Identity

Since providing insider information exposes whistleblowers to risk, confidentiality is an important part of the SEC whistleblower program. The SEC says it is committed to protecting your identity to the fullest possible extent. To do that, it guards the identity of every whistleblower who meets the SEC’s definition of a whistleblower (usually, someone who provides original information about a possible securities law violation in writing). The Commission may have to disclose your identity in response to a court order or when passing the case to another agency. Still, those other agencies would also be required to keep your identity confidential.

If that’s not enough assurance for you, the SEC whistleblower program also provides a way to stay completely anonymous. If you don’t want even the agency itself to know who you are, you can submit your information without your name or identifying information. However, if you want to be eligible for a financial award later on, you must have an SEC whistleblower attorney who can act as a go-between for you and the Commission. Having this representation permits you to cooperate with the SEC during its investigation.

Retaliation

The SEC whistleblower program also offers protection against retaliation. Just like civil rights laws related to workplace discrimination, the law that created the whistleblower program forbids employers from harassing, demoting, transferring, firing, or otherwise taking adverse actions against you because you’re a whistleblower.

More importantly, the law gives you the right to sue an employer who retaliates against you anyway. This kind of lawsuit could get you any pay you missed because of the retaliation (with interest), reinstatement, and the cost of the lawsuit, including attorneys’ fees. (Changes to SEC rules in late 2020 confirm that this right is available only to people who meet the definition of a whistleblower.) However, because this is a lawsuit, you must meet both the deadline to sue and the standards of evidence. An SEC whistleblower attorney can make sure you’re bringing the best possible case.

Get Professional Guidance

Silver Law and the Law Firm of David R. Chase represent whistleblowers who need legal help as they sort out all of these rights and rules. Both attorneys are career-long securities attorneys who now focus their practices on representing investors or employees of financial services companies. If you’d like to talk to an experienced lawyer about your whistleblower information and what to do with it, call us today at 800.975.4345 or send us a message online.

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