In July 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
(SOA) which includes measures to protect "whistle-blowers" who
report their company's financial wrongdoing. SOA applies to employees
of public companies. SOA requires companies to set up procedures
for anonymous reporting of fraud allegations. Employees can disclose
their concerns to regulators, law-enforcement officials or Congress
with only a "reasonable belief" that a law has been violated.
Lawsuits can be filed by employees who have been fired, demoted or
even threatened for reporting such allegations. Not only lawsuits
but criminal penalties are now authorized against someone who retaliates
against an employee for reporting concerns regarding illegal conduct.
Complaints are required to be filed within 90 days of the alleged retaliation.
The OSHA, which usually deals with complaints involving things such as asbestos
or drinking-water safety, will bring in outside experts for guidance to deal
with the financial and accounting issues sure to come.
Federal statutes only protect employees who report wrongdoing involving the
government. Otherwise employees have to face state laws for retaliation claims.
But state laws vary widely and often do not offer a level of protection which
would encourage "whistle-blowing."
Blakeley & Blakeley LLP - Trade Vendor Monthly News Flash - November
2002. This information is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor a
substitute for legal advice. once again link Blakeley & Blakeley