Greg Becker was awarded $1.9 million last month in his Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) whistleblower anti-retaliation case. Becker, the chief financial officer (CFO) for Rockwood Clinic, was fired for refusing to file false financial reports. The clinic pressured Becker to project the company’s 2012 losses at $4 million instead of $12.8 million, which Becker had estimated. Becker refused to project the losses at $4 million because doing so would violate federal financial reporting laws and mislead investors. Thereafter, he was forced to resign.
Sarbanes-Oxley provides retaliation protection for those blowing the whistle on fraud against shareholders and violations of securities laws. In order to file an anti-retaliation case under Sarbanes-Oxley, the complaint must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor within 180 days of the adverse action. Under SOX, recovery can include: reinstatement, back pay, special damages, and attorney fees. Front pay has also been accepted as a possible remedy under Sarbanes-Oxley in circumstances where reinstatement would not be appropriate.
Becker was awarded front pay, back pay, special damages, and attorney fees. Specifically, the judge awarded Becker $341,380 in back pay and almost $1.5 million in front pay. Becker was also awarded $15,000 for reputation damage, attorney fees, and cost. The $1.9 million awarded demonstrates the significance of the case.
Many whistleblower provisions include anti-retaliation provisions. Where the provision under SOX requires the complaint to be filed in 180 days, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) permits whistleblowers to file in federal court within two years of the adverse action. Dodd-Frank also permits the recovery of double back pay, special damages, attorney fees, and reinstatement under the same section.
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