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9th Circuit rules on Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection

On March 9, it was reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a decision made by a California court involving a person who was terminated after reporting another employee's misconduct to the company. The company had argued that the person was not protected against retaliation as he had not made a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The plaintiff was employed by Digital Realty Trust, Inc. as a vice president for a four-year period. He stated that he reported a senior vice president to the company after he believed that the other employee had committed numerous acts that involved serious misconduct. He did not make a report to the SEC before he was terminated. The plaintiff then filed a whistleblower retaliation claim under Dodd-Frank, though the company requested that the case be dismissed as the former employee had not filed a report with the SEC.

The lower court ultimately denied the motion to dismiss the claim. The case then went to the 9th Circuit. In a 2-1 decision, it upheld the lower court's decision. It stated that a whistleblower who only files an internal report is protected against retaliation under Dodd-Frank.

When employees report an incident of unlawful behavior, they are protected under their rights as a whistleblower. If the company fires them, demotes them or otherwise punishes them for making a report, an employment attorney may help. Depending on the situation, the attorney may seek compensation for any wages the employee lost as a result of the illegal retaliation.

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