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Developments related to whistleblower cases

A New York employee who encounters corrupt behavior on the job may find that there is a need to report such behavior to outside authorities if a supervisor or employer fails to act on the information. However, there are provisions for outside reporting if a such activity continues or if a whistleblower is harassed for bringing attention to such a situation. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is such an outside entity and operates its Office of the Whistleblower to oversee such issues as they relate to securities. In addition to handling reports of violations of securities laws, the office may reward whistleblowers whose assistance results in sanctions in excess of $1 million.

During the 2015 fiscal year, the SEC recorded an increase of 8 percent in the number of whistleblower tips in comparison to the prior year. Nearly 4,000 tips were received, and the agency paid approximately $37 million in awards. While the majority of the tips originated in the United States, there were also more than 60 tips provided from foreign locations. Approximately half of the awards given by the SEC went to parties who were currently or previously employed by the companies in question.

One of the important cases of the year involved the right to bring a suit against individuals from a company. Although the defendants in the case suggested that federal guidelines do no allow them to be considered personally liable in cases of workplace retaliation related to whistleblowing activity, the ruling affirmed individual liability.

Engaging in whistleblower actions can be intimidating for an employee because of the potential for retaliation. An individual who has been fired or demoted because of engaging in protected behavior might seek a lawyer's advice to determine how to address such illegal action.

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