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The basics of retaliation claims under Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank

Lately we've been discussing the problem of workplace retaliation. A claim brought by a Nassau County sheriff's deputy raised the issue.

And our more recent post -- "Retaliated against at work? The law is on your side" -- explains some of the legal options you have if your employer fires you, demotes you or gives you a negative performance review or reference after you file a complaint internally or externally.

Workplace retaliation occurs in every industry, from blue-collar to white-collar jobs. Here let's discuss important federal legislation that offers protections to employees in the financial industry. Those laws are the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act.

Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) pertains to these specific kinds of companies:

  • Public companies based in the United States
  • International companies with registered equity or debt securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Those companies' accounting firms

Generally, employee complaints under SOX relate to certain white collar crimes such as securities fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and shareholder fraud. Employees who bring these kinds of complaints are protected from retaliation under SOX, and there is a 90-day time limit for filing a SOX claim, which has to be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

If you file a SOX claim, then you may be entitled to back pay, attorney's fees and other costs.

Dodd-Frank, in effect since 2010, protects public and private employees. The law has proven quite effective, as employees receive significant whistleblower protections for reporting violations under SOX, the Securities and Exchange Commissions Act and other laws and rules under jurisdiction of the SEC.

Like SOX, Dodd-Frank offers employees protections against retaliation, as well as a more expedient means of bringing a private lawsuit to hold an employer accountable.

Under Dodd-Frank, starting from the date of retaliation, you have six years to report retaliatory conduct. Sometimes, however, evidence of retaliation doesn't become known until later, and in such cases, the statute of limitations is three years after the facts of retaliation become known. All legal actions of this kind are limited to 10 years after the violation occurred.

If you want to learn more about whistleblower claims in the financial industry, then our New York employment law website is a good place to start.

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