House Strengthens Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees

On January 28, 2009, the House passed the Platts-Van Hollen amendment to its economic stimulus bill, which will enhance whistleblower protections for federal employees who report on waste, fraud and abuse of federal funds.  The Platts-Van Hollen amendment which is substantially similar to H.R. 985, grants federal employees the right to a jury trial in whistleblower retaliation actions and extends whistleblower protections to federal scientists, national security whistleblowers, and transportation security officers.  In addition, the amendment eliminates the loopholes that the Federal Circuit has read into the Whistleblower Protection Act.

To learn more about the The Employment Law Group® law firm’s representation of federal employees under the Whistleblower Protection Act, click here.

The Employment Law Group® Law Firm Calls for Stronger Whistleblower Protections

The Employment Law Group® law firm joins the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and 262 other organizations petitioning Congress to strengthen federal whistleblower protections.  Yesterday, GAP and other public interest groups delivered a letter to President Barack Obama and legislators stressing the need “to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act.”  In the letter, the organizations also articulated how crucial it is to have comprehensive whistleblower protections that would: 

  • Grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court;
  • Specifically protect federal scientists who report efforts to alter, misrepresent, or suppress federal research;
  • Extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers;
  • Strengthen protections for federal contractors, as strong as those provided to DoD contractors and grantees in last year’s defense authorization legislation;
  • Extend meaningful protections to Transportation Security Officers (screeners);
  • Neutralize the government’s use of the “state secrets” privilege;
  • Bar the MSPB from ruling for an agency before whistleblowers have the opportunity to present evidence of retaliation;
  • Provide whistleblowers the right to be made whole, including compensatory damages;
  • Grant comparable due process rights to employees who blow the whistle in the course of a government investigation or who refuse to violate the law; and
  • Remove the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on precedent-setting cases.  

To read more about The Employment Law Group® law firm’s representation of federal employees under the Whistleblower Protection Act, click here.

KLIV News Reports on Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo

KLIV reports about Daniel Fisher’s whistleblower lawsuit against Wells Fargo in an article titled, “Local Financial Consultant Suing Wells Fargo Bank.”  The article describes the retaliation that Mr. Fisher suffered as a result of blowing the whistle on alleged violations of SEC rules, and the Department of Labor’s conclusion after a 22-month investigation that Wells Fargo violated Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. For additional information about Mr. Fisher’s whistleblower lawsuit, including a copy of OSHA’s findings and preliminary order of reinstatement, click here.

Wells Fargo Whistleblower Files Lawsuit to Enforce Department of Labor Order of Reinstatement

Daniel Fisher has filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California to enforce a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) order requiring Wells Fargo to reinstate him to his former position at Wells Fargo’s Cupertino branch.   After conducting a thorough investigation of Mr. Fisher’s Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliation claim, OSHA issued its findings on November 26, 2008, concluding that Wells Fargo violated Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by retaliating against Fisher because he disclosed his co-worker’s steering customers from CDs and savings accounts to unsuitable mutual funds.  In addition, OSHA ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate Fisher, pay him compensatory damages, and post a notice to employees in a conspicuous place committing not to engage in further retaliation. 

A copy of OSHA’s findings and preliminary order is available here.  Wells Fargo is refusing to comply with the order and therefore Fisher is bringing a lawsuit in federal court to enforce the order of reinstatement.  Fisher’s SOX case is pending in the Office of Administrative Law Judges at the United States Department of Labor.

 “In light of recent scandals in the financial services industry, Wells Fargo’s retaliation against Fisher is especially troubling because he was trying to protect customers who were being steered to unsuitable investments by a financial advisor eager to generate fees.  Instead of commending Mr. Fisher’s efforts to protect Wels Fargo customers, Wells Fargo punished him and launched a smear campaign against him, thereby damaging his relationships with customers and his reputation,” said Fisher’s Counsel Scott Oswald and Jason Zuckerman of The Employment Law Group law firm in Washington, D.C.  “We commend Mr. Fisher’s courageous whistleblowing and look forward to a trial in this matter to obtain all remedies available to compensate Mr. Fisher for the substantial damages he has suffered.”

SOX was enacted on July 30, 2002, and is also known as the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002. With the enactment of SOX, Congress provided statutory protection for employees who report corporate fraud to ensure that employees have an effective means of making such reports without fear of employer retaliation. R. Scott Oswald and Jason Zuckerman, Principals at The Employment Law Group (www.employmentlawgroup.com), are representing Mr. Fisher and can be reached at 202-331-2883.

Spartan Motors Pays $1.7 Million for False Claims Act Violations

On December 29, 2008, the Justice Department announced that Spartan Motors and its subsidiary, Spartan Chassis have agreed to pay the United States $1.7 Million to resolve allegations that it paid kickbacks to an employee of Force Protection Inc.  In the complaint, the United States alleged that Spartan paid the Force Protection employee approximately $100,000 in exchange for Spartan to receive a subcontract to provide chassis for armored vehicles for the U.S. Military.

The case was investigated and prosecuted as part of the National Procurement Fraud Initiative.  In October 2006, the Deputy Attorney General announced the formation of a National Procurement Fraud Task Force designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention, and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs.  For more information about the False Claims Act, click here.