October 17, 2021

Volume XI, Number 290

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October 15, 2021

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SEC Issues Interpretation of its Regulations on Definition of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower

On August 4, 2015, the SEC issued an “Interpretation of the SEC’s Whistleblower Rules Under Section 21F of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.” (pdf).  Unsurprisingly, and consistent with the position that it has been taking in amicus briefs on the issue, the SEC states that a whistleblower need not report suspected wrongdoing to the Commission in order to be protected by the anti-retaliation provisions of Dodd-Frank. Rather, internal whistleblowing that is protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is protected activity sufficient to state a claim under Dodd-Frank, according to the SEC.  We recently posted a video discussion of this very topic (here), noting that there is currently a sharp split of judicial authority on this critical question, and that the issue may well be headed to the Supreme Court for resolution. 

The Fifth Circuit held in Asadi v. G.E. Energy (USA), LLC, 720 F.3d 620 (5th Cir. 2013), that a Dodd-Frank whistleblower must report wrongdoing to the Commission to be protected by that statute; a decision from the Second Circuit on the issue is pending in Berman v. Neo@Ogilvy LLC, 14-4626 (2d Cir.).  Ultimately, of course, it is the job of the courts to determine what Congress intended in the Dodd-Frank Act, but if the issue does indeed reach the Supreme Court – and in every federal district and appellate court case until that time – those favoring a broad interpretation of the definition of a “whistleblower” under the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provision will surely be citing the SEC’s new interpretation of its regulations.

©2021 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume V, Number 218
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About this Author

john f fullerton III, epstein becker green, new york, financial services
Member

JOHN F. FULLERTON III is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green, where he co-leads the Financial Services strategic industry group.

Mr. Fullerton's practice currently focuses on representing employers in whistleblower compliance and litigation defense in retaliation cases brought pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank Act, the False Claims Act, as well as state law whistleblower statutes. In this capacity, he has represented a variety of publicly traded...

212-351-4580
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