Compliance Officer Whistleblowers

As a wider range of industries face increasing risks and regulation, many corporations are implementing compliance programs that can help identify and address risks before they become liabilities. From corporate accounting and reporting to government contracting, from Medicare reimbursement to product safety, corporate compliance officers and other compliance department personnel play a critical role in protecting their companies, as well as clients, customers, and the general public.  By raising sensitive issues, compliance personnel often find themselves at odds with management, who can be single-minded about maximizing revenue even if that means ignoring laws and other regulations.  When this conflict escalates, it can lead to the compliance officer suffering retaliation, marginalization or job loss despite his or her conscientious service and commitment to acting with integrity. 

What Laws Protect Compliance Officers?

Compliance officers in many corporations today are protected by anti-retaliation laws that prevent employers from retaliating against employees who value integrity over expediency, and who report noncompliance with the law to their supervisors or to the government.  These include the Dodd-Frank Act (protection for reporting securities violations), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (protection for reporting fraud), the False Claims Act (protection for reporting fraud in government contracting), the Consumer Finance Protection Act (protection for reporting federal consumer law violations).  A host of federal and state laws also protect employees in specific industries such as ground transportation, aviation, nuclear power or defense contracting, or in specific activities affecting the environment.  Compliance whistleblowers who report wrongdoing concerning multiple aspects of operations may have protection under more than one such law.

These whistleblower protections take a number of forms, but generally prohibit employers from “discriminating,” “retaliating” or taking “adverse employment actions” against employees for “filing complaints,” making “protected disclosures” or reporting wrongdoing to “supervisory personnel with authority to investigate and stop” the wrongdoing.   Under many such laws, the compliance whistleblower can obtain reinstatement, back pay and compensatory damages for reputational harm, and compensation for pain and suffering if an employer terminates, harasses, or demotes the employee for trying to bring the company into compliance or objecting to illegalities.

Compliance officers may also be able to participate in certain “award” programs that allow them to share in monetary recovery the government obtains from corporate wrongdoers.  Compliance personnel may also be able to serve as qui tam relators and  sue to recover fraudulently obtained government funds under the False Claims Act.  They may also be able to obtain awards by reporting underpayment of taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, or, in some cases, providing tips to the Securities and Exchange Commission about securities violations, or to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission about violations of regulations governing futures trading.

Why Hire KMB For Your Compliance Officer Whistleblower Case?

Our nationally-recognized attorneys have successfully represented many compliance officers working in banking, pharmaceuticals, health care and other industries.  If you are a compliance officer or other compliance department employee who is considering blowing the whistle or have already done so and are experiencing retaliation, contact the experienced lawyers at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP. Your communications with us are confidential, and without charge or further obligation.