The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) governs the securities law and how stocks and securities are traded and handled in the country’s economic market. Any violations are strictly governed by the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and can be penalized with sanctions, fines and even charges.
Although these entities have set forth policies to control the financial markets, there are millions of people working in the field in various capacities and it is nearly impossible for the federal commissions to keep an eye on every single one.
For this reason, the SEC has legislation in place to protect people who uncover and report wrongdoing in the securities markets. These people, known as SEC whistleblowers, voluntarily give the SEC information regarding violations to securities laws and policies. While this may seem like a daunting job because it often involves turning in coworkers or people higher up in the company, it is important to keep the entire business running honestly and fairly.
2010 Dodd-Frank Act
In 2010, the federal government passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was a move towards correcting the instability and abuse that contributed to the financial crisis that plagued the country at the beginning of the 21st century.
Beginning with the definition of a whistleblower within the scope of SEC violations and activity, the Act is an expansion to previously established whistleblower policies and creates the SEC whistleblower reward program and the CFTC whistleblower program. The Act invokes the highest levels of protection for whistleblowers who come forward, allowing them to do so anonymously.
Both programs offer rewards and protections for whistleblowers who come forward with valuable information. The Dodd-Frank Act stipulates that whistleblowers may receive financial compensation as a reward for coming forward about violations; however, in order to receive these rewards, whistleblowers must meet the criteria set forth in the Act.
SEC Whistleblower Rules
The Dodd-Frank Act establishes a set of SEC Whistleblower Rules that must be followed if whistleblowers want to receive the financial rewards and protection from employer retaliation. These rules include the following:
- The information provided by the whistleblower must be given voluntarily.
- The information must lead to a recovery of at least $1 million.
- The information must have been discovered through the whistleblower’s independent research and analysis.
- The SEC must not have known about the violation.
- The information must have been taken from a source outside of governmental reports, media, press releases, legal proceedings or others.
If all of these criteria have been met, the whistleblower can apply for protection under the Dodd-Frank Act. The Act makes it illegal for employers to take any retaliation against employees who uncover fraud or violations, including firing the employee, cutting wages or taking other negative steps.
The Act also allows a whistleblowing employee to sue for reinstatement if he or she is fired as a result of a pending lawsuit. Whistleblowers who file a lawsuit can be represented by an attorney throughout the process.
At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our Contra Costa County whistleblower attorneys represent anyone who wants to come forward with information about violations or abuse in their company under the SEC laws. For more information, contact our office at www.evanslaw.com or 415-441-8669 today.