Whistleblower & Corporate Investigations

In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley era, defending against whistleblower claims requires highly experienced, sophisticated and strategic counsel. We have successfully defended dozens of whistleblower actions for companies worldwide.

We’ve worked on precedent-setting cases, including Livingston v. Wyeth, one of the leading cases to date that address what constitutes "protected activity" under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. And we helped Broadcom secure a complete dismissal of a Dodd-Frank whistleblower claim brought by an in-house attorney in Davies v. Broadcom. Along the way, we’ve played an integral role in the development of whistleblower law. We authored the leading treatise on Whistleblower defense, Corporate Whistleblowing in the Sarbanes-Oxley/Dodd-Frank Era.

Our clients include multinational employers across a wide range of industries, and their audit committees. We advise on how to develop effective complaint and internal reporting procedures and training across jurisdictions. Where necessary, we conduct internal investigations of claims of retaliation, as well as an investigation of the underlying wrongdoing being asserted. We represent clients with respect to Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank covered complaints, and in proceedings regarding the same before regulators and the courts. And we defend our results on appeal; for example, we drafted an amicus brief in the first Sarbanes-Oxley case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

As part of our global litigation platform, we draw on whatever skills are needed across practice groups, including employment law, SEC regulatory, securities litigation, corporate governance and ethics, as well as white collar and investigations.

  • Computers, Electronics and Semiconductors Industry

    • We defended a client when the plaintiff claimed that his employment was terminated before he "blew the whistle" about our client, which, he alleged, was misrepresenting its software license renewal rates.
    • We represented a publicly traded technology company in connection with an internal investigation of a whistleblower complaint regarding an alleged insider trading scheme.

    Financial Services Industry

    • We represented a client in a Sarbanes-Oxley complaint filed with the Department of Labor in which an employee claimed that our client retaliated after the employee alleged that our client was committing fraud with respect to government contracts. We convinced a DOL Administrative Law Judge to dismiss the case without a hearing, a decision that was affirmed on appeal by the DOL’s Administrative Review Board.
    • We represented a client in a Sarbanes-Oxley complaint in which a research analyst alleged that our client retaliated after the employee participated in a regulatory investigation. We convinced the Department of Labor to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.
    • We drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in the first Sarbanes-Oxley case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, addressing key questions of who is covered by the Act and the extent to which courts must give deference to the Department of Labor’s interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley.
    • We advised a client in connection with a threatened Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower claim made by a senior officer of the company. We successfully negotiated a resolution of the matter and avoided the filing of complaints with the Department of Labor and federal courts.
    • We represented a client in a Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Labor involving a claim by an analyst who alleged that she was terminated for complaining about our client’s inflation of the price for certain collateralized debt obligations.
    • We represented a client in a Sarbanes-Oxley claim at the Department of Labor involving a claim of fraud connected with commission arrangements and incentives to brokers.
    • We represented a client in a large-scale action asserting fraud in connection with municipal bond transactions and retaliation for whistleblowing, and obtained dismissal of these claims in a FINRA arbitration.
    • We represented the audit committee of a publicly traded financial company in connection with an internal investigation of a whistleblower retaliation claim.
    • We represented the audit committee of a major accounting firm in connection with several internal investigations of anonymous whistleblower complaints.

    Pharmaceutical Industry

    • We represented a Fortune 500 company in one of the first cases to be filed in federal court involving Sarbanes-Oxley claims. In this case, a relatively low-level employee in a nonfinancial position claimed that his complaints about training documentation should be covered by Sarbanes-Oxley. We successfully argued, both on summary judgment in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina and on appeal before the Fourth Circuit, that such complaints were not "covered" under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, providing one of the leading precedents to date as to what constitutes protected activity under the Act.
    • We represented a Fortune 500 company in multiple cases brought by a vaccine manufacturing worker who claimed that he was terminated after he complained of violations of FDA regulations. He argued that his termination was in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the New York State Whistleblower Statute.

    Retail Industry

    • We represented a client in a case in which the plaintiff claimed he alerted the company to false billing practices and was terminated for that whistleblowing.

    Energy Industry

    • We represented a client in a Sarbanes-Oxley case in the Western District of Texas in which the plaintiff claimed that his employment was terminated for reporting alleged antitrust law violations and improper accounting practices. We successfully argued that the complaint should be dismissed on a 12(b)(6) motion, a decision that was largely affirmed by the Fifth Circuit.

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