The U.S. Senate on Oct. 18 once again passed the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act to extend whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal antitrust violations.

This marks the fourth time the bipartisan measure, co-authored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has passed the Senate, after similar versions of the legislation were unanimously passed in 2013, 2015, and 2017. It, however, has yet to be taken up by the House.

Grassley and Leahy have worked on this legislation since a Government Accountability Office report recommended these changes in 2011. The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act “encourages private-sector employees to blow the whistle on activities that violate our antitrust laws and harm consumers,” Grassley said. “This bill also protects these private sector employees from reprisal in the workplace after coming forward with information working to protect whistleblowers, specifically in the private sector.”

The bill would allow employees who believe they are the victim of retaliation to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor and provides for that employee to be reinstated to their former status if the Secretary finds in their favor. Grassley and Leahy authored similar whistleblower statutes as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002.

The bill does not apply to any covered individual who planned and initiated:

  • A violation or attempted violation of the antitrust laws;
  • A violation or attempted violation of another criminal law in conjunction with a violation or attempted violation of the antitrust laws; or
  • An obstruction or attempted obstruction of an investigation by the Department of Justice of a violation of the antitrust laws.

Additional original cosponsors of this bill include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“More work remains,” Leahy said, “but I am hopeful the House will take up and pass this important legislation without delay.”