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"Whistleblower" Definition Under Dodd-Frank Narrowed by Supreme Court

February 21, 2018

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a narrowed definition of the term “whistleblower” under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). The Court held that Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision extended only to an individual who provided information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about a violation of the securities laws. Therefore, an inside whistleblower is not entitled to protection from retaliation under Dodd-Frank.

Under Dodd-Frank, a whistleblower is a person who provides “information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission.” A whistleblower is eligible for an award if the information he or she provides leads to a successful enforcement action. A whistleblower is also protected from retaliation for making required and protected disclosures under any law subject to the SEC’s jurisdiction.

In a result that all nine justices agreed with, the Court found that these protections are only afforded to individuals who provide information to the SEC about alleged securities violations. The majority found that Congress’s aim was to encourage prompt SEC disclosures and that this definition supported that purpose.

If you have any questions concerning this definition or any whistleblower laws, please contact one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys.