While the most common type of whistleblower may be a disgruntled employee, others can be whistleblowers, too. And as a recent SEC enforcement action highlights, interfering with these others’ attempts to communicate with the SEC can violate the agency’s whistleblower protection rules. In an amended complaint filed on November 4, 2019 in a pending SEC enforcement action, the agency alleges that the defendant company and one of its principals violated the SEC’s whistleblower rules by requiring the company’s investors to enter agreements in which the investors agreed not to contact the SEC or other regulatory enforcement authorities. The SEC alleges that these actions violated the agency’s whistleblower rules. A copy of the SEC’s November 4, 2019 press release about the amended complaint can be found here.  
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on February 21, 2018 that the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions protect only whistleblowers that make a report to the SEC, and do not apply to whistleblowers who report internally. The Court’s ruling, which resolved a circuit split on the question of who was entitled to the Act’s provisions, will significant limit the scope of the anti-retaliation protections. The Court’s February 21, 2018 opinion in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers can be found here.
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For almost the entire time that there have even been federal securities laws, the U.S. Supreme Court only rarely and infrequently agreed to take up cases arising securities cases. Until recently, years would pass between the times that securities cases appeared on the Supreme Court’s docket. For some reason, beginning around the middle of the last decade, the Court has become increasingly willing to take up securities cases. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017-2018 term, which commences on Monday, is no exception to this recent trend. There are three important securities cases on the Court’s docket for the upcoming term, and these cases could have, both individually and collectively, a significant impact on many securities law cases and on securities litigation in general.
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sup ct 4In the flurry of opinions and orders on Monday on the final day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, and amid the hubbub over the Court’s action on the Trump administration travel ban order, you might well have overlooked the fact that on Monday the Court also agreed to take up the question of whether or not the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions apply to and protect individuals who did not make a whistleblower report to the SEC. The lower courts have struggled with the question of whether or not the anti-retaliation protections extend to individuals who file internal reports within their own companies. A split on the issue has developed and now the U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity to address the question in the case of Digital Realty Trust v. Somers. The Court’s June 26, 2017 order granting Digital Realty Trust’s petition for a writ of certiorari can be found here.
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gavelWithin the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower provisions, Congress included some stiff anti-retaliation protections. Since the Act’s passage, however, the lower federal courts have struggled to try to determine whether the anti-retaliation protections apply only to whistleblowers who file reports with the SEC or whether or not the protections extend to individuals who file internal whistleblower reports within their own companies. A split on this issue has developed within the federal circuit courts and now the United States Supreme Court may have the opportunity to address the question.
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