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Dodd-Frank Awards, Protections Lure Whistleblowers to Come Forward

The massive Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, known as Dodd-Frank, brought sweeping reforms to the financial industry. In addition to the institution of new regulatory groups and consumer protections, the Act strengthened the protections granted to financial whistleblowers and created an award system for whistleblowers whose complaints lead to a successful investigation.

Law firms are currently experiencing an influx in whistleblower claims. Some firms attribute the increase in cases to the tougher protections and new awards established under Dodd-Frank. Armed with the protections and benefits that Dodd-Frank provides, employees are coming forward with claims that they might not otherwise feel empowered to initiate.

The Dodd-Frank Act provides enhanced anti-retaliation protections to workers who speak out against the illegal practices of their employers. Initially, workers are encouraged to file complaints using their company’s internal compliance protocols. Dodd-Frank incentivizes workers to do so by offering a monetary award for complaints that result in successful violations reported through internal compliance processes.

Dodd-Frank also awards whistleblowers in the event that their complaint leads to successful investigations and violations by the SEC. If the SEC issues a violation against a company that exceeds $1 million, the whistleblower may be eligible for a monetary award of up to 30 percent of the fine that the SEC collects. If a whistleblower comes forward voluntarily, the award will be higher; if they interfere with the investigation, the SEC can decrease the amount of the award.

In short, if a whistleblower voluntarily steps forward, cooperates with an SEC investigation and his or her information helps uncover an actual violation, he or she is eligible for a monetary award of up to 30 percent of the fine. Additionally, all whistleblowers, regardless of the outcome of their complaint, are protected from worker retaliation under Dodd-Frank.

Employees who are considering blowing the whistle on their employers are advised to discuss their complaint with an experienced employment attorney to ensure that they follow the provisions of Dodd-Frank and are eligible for the protections from retaliation the Act provides. If you or a loved one suspects illegal activity at your company, please contact an experienced employment lawyer who can help you understand your rights as a potential whistleblower.