Whistleblower Protection in the Biden Era: Are Stronger Protections Coming?
One of President Biden’s key campaign promises was that he would restore public faith in the federal government by means including, but not limited to, enhancing whistleblower protections. On June 3, 2021, the White House issued a Memorandum on Establishing the Fight Against Corruption as a Core United States National Security Interest; and, in that Memorandum, President Biden called on several federal agencies to submit recommendations for how the government can “prevent and combat corruption,” “combat all forms of illicit finance,” and “hold accountable corrupt individuals” going forward.
The Memorandum gave these agencies 200 days to submit their recommendations—effectively establishing a deadline of December 20, 2021. When the public will learn these agencies’ recommendations – and how the White House intends to act upon them – remains to be seen. Generally speaking, however, the Biden Administration’s focus on accountability is a good sign, and the consensus among commentators is that we will see greater whistleblower protections put into place before the next election cycle.
How Whistleblower Protections Work
Generally speaking, whistleblower protections work by ensuring that employees and others will not face retaliation for reporting corporate or government wrongdoing. In the financial whistleblowing context this has been built into the law, to the extent that retaliation, in of itself is an offense. Moreover, the financial whistleblower also has a shield of anonymity if availed early on at the Tip, referral or Complaint stage. These protections are fundamental to promoting transparency both in private industry and in governmental operations. As stated, employees and others must meet certain requirements to secure protection (with specific requirements varying under different statutes). In our experience it is essential for potential whistleblowers to consult with experienced legal counsel to ensure that they qualify for or so they can avail themselves of protection.
Many whistleblower statutes also provide compensation to whistleblowers. For financial whistleblowers that can be upto 30% of the penalties or fines that the company pays. At GS2Law, one of the leading firms in the area of financial whistleblowing, our investigations have led to over $1 Billion in penalties and fines. This provides a further incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and take advantage of the available protections.
Are Stronger Whistleblower Protections Coming?
So, are stronger whistleblower protections coming? As discussed above, this remains to be seen at the federal level. However, at the state level, we have seen some changes already, and it is possible that these new state laws could serve as a model for any forthcoming federal legislation.
Perhaps the most notable example is New York. New York amended its whistleblower law in early 2022 to significantly enhance and eliminate some of the barriers to securing these protections. Under the amended law, employees no longer need to report suspected wrongdoing to their employer in all cases, and in some cases, punitive damages are now available. While federal whistleblower laws such as those enforced by the SEC, CFTC and IRS differ from state employment-related laws in many important respects, it is feasible that the federal government could amend its protections (among others) under these laws.
Speak with a Whistleblower Attorney at GS2 Law
GS2Law is a boutique law firm that represents financial whistleblowers across the United States and has a proven track record of success with the SEC and the CFTC. If you have questions about securing protection or receiving compensation as a whistleblower, please call 212-380-3623 or contact us online to arrange a free and confidential consultation.