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Lessons From The First SOX Whistleblower Cases

The whistleblower protections contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 are already creating a groundswell of employee complaints, with more than 300 whistleblowers claiming their employers retaliated against them for their allegations of corporate misconduct. While only a handful of claims to date have been decided on their merits, they offer important cautionary tales for corporations.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act defines whistleblowing broadly. Complaints must be made either to someone “with supervisory authority over the employee”—rather than, for example, a coworker—or to someone working for the employer who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate the misconduct. This could include complaints made to a company’s auditor or outside counsel, who may then have independent obligations under the Act to report the wrongdoing “up the ladder.”

Whistleblowers also are protected for complaints made to government authorities,... To get the full story, subscribe now.