R. Scott Oswald, Managing Principal of The Employment Law Group® law firm, discusses in the Law360 article titled Revival of SOX Case Stokes Confidentiality Concerns, which outlines the U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board’s blockbuster holding in Vannoy v. Celanese Corp.
Whistleblower Matthew Vannoy noticed potential weaknesses in his employer’s credit card reimbursement program and reported those weaknesses internally and to the IRS. Some of the documents Vannoy sent to the IRS included confidential employer information such as employee home addresses and social security numbers. The ARB held that disclosures containing employer confidential information are protected disclosures under the SOX whistleblower provisions so long as those disclosures contain original information evidencing the purported securities law violation.
R. Scott Oswald of the Employment Law Group, which represents employees, said that with the exception of the May 25 decision in Sylvester v. Parexel, the Vannoy decision was the most significant ruling to come out of the ARB in 2011.
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“It will facilitate cooperation between whistleblowers and the law enforcement agencies that Congress has designated to root out fraud in the corporate sector,” Oswald said of the Vannoy ruling.
According to Oswald, the Vannoy decision eviscerates the argument that using or supplying information that an employer deems confidential to a government body may serve as the basis for disciplinary action.
How the ALJ will rule is still an open question, but if there’s a nexus between the documents Vannoy accessed and his tax fraud allegations, that would be enough to trigger the protections of SOX, he said.
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- TELG Principal Named Top Ten Leader in Employment Law for Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area (executivecounselblog.com)