The U.S. Senate last week unanimously 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.
The bipartisan measure, coauthored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has passed the Senate the past two Congresses, but has yet to be taken up by the House. Grassley, current Judiciary Committee Chairman, and Leahy, a former chair of the panel, have worked on this legislation since a Government Accountability Office report recommended these changes in 2011.
“Our bill encourages private-sector employees to disclose such criminal behavior by protecting them from retaliation at work. Whistleblowers are critical to exposing fraud, waste and abuse in government, and it’s high time we empower whistleblowers in the private sector to do the same for consumers,” Grassley said.
The bill does not apply to any covered individual who:
Planned and initiated a violation or attempted violation of the antitrust laws;
Planned and initiated a violation or attempted violation of another criminal law in conjunction with a violation or attempted violation of the antitrust laws; or
Planned and initiated an obstruction or attempted obstruction of an investigation by the Department of Justice of a violation of the antitrust laws.
In a statement, Leahy said that he will work with Grassley “to advance this commonsense legislation in the House and finally get it to the President for signature. No one should be retaliated against for blowing the whistle on criminal activity.“
“If enacted, this legislation will make it harder for bad actors to get away with illegal anti-competitive behavior,” Leahy said. “Most importantly, it will promote a free and open marketplace and will protect consumers.”
The bill allows employees who believe they are victims of retaliation to file complaints with the Secretary of Labor, and it provides for those employees to be reinstated to their former status if the Secretary finds in their favor. Leahy and Grassley authored similar whistleblower statutes as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002.