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Appellate ruling regarding the Dodd-Frank Act

Workers in New York who are considering reporting wrongdoings by their employer may be interested to know that a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has broaden the scope of the Dodd-Frank Act. The ruling, which was issued on March 8, 2017, asserted that employees who internally report potential violations of federal securities laws are protected by the whistleblower provisions of the law, regardless of whether they reported the suspected violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

There is currently a split among the federal appeals courts regarding the issue. However, the decision by the 9th Circuit highlights the importance of careful consideration before committing any retaliatory acts against an employee who files an internal complaint that may initiate Dodd-Frank's protections.

According to section 21F of the Dodd-Frank Act, an employer is forbidden from performing any adverse actions, such as harassing or threatening, or in any other way discriminate against an employee who discloses certain information that is protected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or any other statute under the jurisdiction of the SEC. If a whistleblower employee is a victim of retaliation, he or she may pursue damages against his or her employer in federal court and may be reinstated to his or her former position. The employee may also receive twice the amount of his or her back pay, in addition to interest, and reimbursement of legal costs and fees.

Individuals who experience any form of employment discrimination because of their actions as a whistleblower may have legal recourse. An attorney could file a complaint with the appropriate federal agency and may pursue financial damages on behalf of a client who was wrongfully terminated or otherwise treated unfairly for reporting illegal employer behavior.

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