Supreme Court Shrinks Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protections

Outten & Golden LLP Employment Law Blog Nicholas Sikon
February 23, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers shrinks Dodd-Frank’s protections against workplace retaliation for corporate whistleblowers.

The once robust statute now leaves a gaping hole for those employees in the private sector who report securities related violations to their employer. Now, after the Supreme Court’s ruling, employees are required to report directly to the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to avail themselves of legal protection under the statute – internal reporting is no longer enough.

“This decision is bad news for both employees and employers,” says Tammy Marzigliano, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP and co-chair of the firm’s Whistleblower Retaliation Practice Group. “When employees report problems internally, it gives companies the opportunity to address potential violations without the cost and risk of government intervention. Employees were empowered to raise compliance and other such issues directly to their employer and did so with the weight of law behind them to protect against retaliation. That doesn’t exist anymore for employees in the private sector. To obtain protection under Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers must now go straight to the government.”