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We Help WHISTLEBLOWERs
North Carolina Attorneys Championing Those Who Do The Right Thing!
We all want to believe that we would be brave enough to speak up if we knew of or were the victim of discrimination in the workplace, or if we learned that our employer was engaged in unlawful or dishonest activities that put coworkers or the public at risk. Yet, the great personal stress caused by the conflict between organizational values and the need for job security is difficult to understand for those who have never had to make the choice between insisting on what's right or looking the other way and carrying on with their work in silence. The enormous power employers have to influence their employees to keep quiet has been recognized by lawmakers in the US Congress and in the North Carolina General Assembly, as well as by state courts. As a result, laws have been put in place to prevent employers from taking revenge against employees who report workplace discrimination, other violations of employee rights, or their employers’ unethical business practices. Our attorneys at Puryear and Lingle, PLLC understand these important legal rights and can forcefully represent whistleblowers who experienced retaliation.
Categories of Whistleblower rights
There are numerous federal and state laws that prohibit retaliation against employees who report unlawful conduct, cooperate with regulatory authorities or otherwise exercise their legal rights. However, the scope of these protections and the actions required to utilize them depend greatly on the circumstances:
Discrimination and harassment – The Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and all their state and local analogs contain provisions that make it a separate offense for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because he or she:
Wage and hour – Federal and state labor laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for complaining about illegal wage practices, filing agency complaints or lawsuits or otherwise cooperating with regulators.
Workplace Safety – When employees refuse to violate safety regulations or oppose or report their employers’ creation of or refusal to correct unsafe working conditions, both the federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Acts (OSHA), as well as North Carolina common law, prohibit employer retaliation.
Sarbanes-Oxley – Since 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has made it easier for employees and contractors of publicly traded companies to report suspicions of fraud or SEC rules violations both up within the company and out to regulators if necessary.
Dodd-Frank – The newer Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act allows financial industry whistleblowers who suffer adverse employment action as a result of their reporting to the SEC to sue for lost wages and other compensation. While this act is separate and distinct from Sarbanes-Oxley, there is a great deal of overlap between the two and in many ways they work in tandem.
Guidance and counsel for North Carolina Whistleblowers
The decision to be a whistleblower is never easy. However, having experienced whistleblower attorneys working for them can allow whistleblowers to move forward with confidence. Our legal team at Puryear and Lingle, PLLC has fought for whistleblowers and victims of retaliation in all industrie s— from the board rooms of publicly-traded national companies to restaurant kitchens. If you are thinking about stepping forward as a whistleblower, or have already done so and are suffering or fear suffering retaliation from your employer, contact us today toll free at 1-888-232-4869 or reach out to us online.
NC Whistleblower Attorneys Protecting Employees from Retaliation!
Whistleblower Protection under Sarbanes Oxley
Employees of publicly traded companies (or their contractors) who become aware of questionable practices in the workplace can find themselves in a tough position. It may be difficult to know how to respond. Many feel compelled to report their findings up the ladder but are concerned about the repercussions they could face if management chooses to ignore them. Unfortunately, some companies are desperate to keep such dealings private and resort to job retaliation to silence concerned employees. Realizing that whistleblowers need protection in order to promote transparency in business, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. At Puryear and Lingle, PLLC, our North Carolina whistleblower lawyers understand the protections afforded by this important legislation and have successfully fought for those who suffered retaliation for taking a stand against inadequate internal accounting controls, corruption and illegal practices.
What does the Sarbanes-Oxley Act provide?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, often called SOX, applies to all publicly traded companies that are required to register securities under the Securities and Exchange Act. It prohibits such companies from retaliating against individuals for the following activities related to fraud or SEC rules violations within the company:
Unlike many other retaliation laws, SOX applies not only to employees of covered companies but also to contractors, subcontractors and agents of the company. Moreover, retaliation under SOX does not require any adverse employment action to actually take place. Threats and harassment against whistleblowers are still a violation even if they are not accompanied by termination, demotion or other more tangible retaliation.
SOX protection only applies to certain types of illegal conduct. The Whistleblower must reasonably believe that the company has engaged in certain violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, violations of SEC rules or regulations, or fraud on its shareholders. While whistleblowers who report other types of misconduct may find protection under other laws, the rights provided by SOX may not be available.
North Carolina Whistleblower Lawyers Fighting for You!
What to do if you have experienced whistleblower retaliation
While SOX affords fairly extensive protection to whistleblowers at publicly traded companies, there is a specific process for asserting these rights.
A person who suffered retaliation under SOX must file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor within 180 days of the alleged retaliation. If the Department of Labor fails to issue a final decision within 180 days, the whistleblower may bring an action in a U.S. district court. While some other similar banking regulations as well as the SEC whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act do allow whistleblowers to go straight to court, an initial administrative complaint with DOL or an appropriate inspector general is a prerequisite for court action under SOX.
Victims of retaliation under Sarbanes-Oxley may recover all compensation required to make them whole, including reinstatement or restoration of seniority and benefits, back pay, litigation costs, compensation for emotional distress, damage to reputation and reasonable attorney fees.
Coming forward as a whistleblower always takes courage and often comes with risks. If you have been subjected to harassment, threats or adverse employment action after voicing concerns regarding the practices of a publicly traded company, you may have legal rights. Our NC whistleblower attorneys at Puryear and Lingle, PLLC understand the intricacies of SOX's whistleblower protection provisions and can advise and represent you through the entire whistleblower process. Call our office today toll free at 1-888-232-4869 or contact us online to arrange a confidential assessment.
NC Attorneys Protecting Whistleblowers and Recovering Fair Compensation!
Whistleblower Rights under Dodd Frank
We live and do business in a complex regulatory landscape with the number of laws and regulations affecting specific types of businesses increasing on a daily basis. This is especially true in the banking and financial sectors where recent high-profile abuses have caused regulators to crack down. While the government allocates significant resources and labor to the enforcement of these regulations, the government simply cannot be everywhere at once. That is why, to an increasing extent, the federal government relies upon conscientious whistleblowers to bring to light violations and abuses that would otherwise be hidden from regulatory scrutiny. People who commit to reporting illegal conduct often put themselves at professional and financial risk. Fortunately, federal law provides protection for whistleblowers as well as potential compensation for their services. At the law firm of Puryear and Lingle, PLLC, our North Carolina whistleblower attorneys are well versed in these laws and programs, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We can help individuals in the financial industry who are concerned about illegal conduct disclose their information to the proper authorities in a way that ensures their protection, safeguards their rights and, in some cases, earns the whistleblowers a share of the money recovered.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Dodd-Frank became law in the wake of the 2008 financial crash with the goal of encouraging transparency and discouraging regulatory violations within the financial industry. The Act accomplishes this in two distinct ways:
Qualifying for compensation under Dodd-Frank
Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act provides a compensation program for whistleblowers and the awards payable under this program can be quite substantial. However, whistleblowers must be careful in what information they provide and to whom they provide it in order to ensure they qualify for compensation:
Whistleblowers who qualify can expect to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the sanctions actually collected subject to the SEC's discretion. The SEC's decision may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.
Put an experienced NC Whistleblower Lawyer On Your Side!
Financial sector professionals who report unlawful conduct to the SEC can experience professional and financial blowback. The Dodd-Frank bounty program can defray these costs and provide whistleblowers some sense of security. However, qualifying for payments under Dodd-Frank is not automatic and whistleblowers must be sure to follow proper procedures or risk forfeiting hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Our North Carolina whistleblower attorneys at the law firm of Puryear and Lingle, PLLC understand Dodd-Frank and other whistleblower laws, as well as the pressure and uncertainty whistleblowers feel, and are here to guide and act for you every step of the way. Contact our office today to arrange a confidential no-cost consultation. We are available toll free at 1-888-232-4869. You can also contact us online.