The Wall Street Journal’s Risk & Compliance Report blog predicts that 2015 will bring additional clarity to whistleblower issues. In a January 23 post titled “Big Whistleblower Predictions for 2015,” reporter Rachel Ensign addressed the predictions of several whistleblower experts. To summarize:
–There will be more focus on employment contracts. Specifically, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will reportedly be scrutinizing companies’ use of contracts that forbid employees from reporting suspected wrongdoing to the government.
This is an issue Ethical Advocate has posted about in the past, in connection with False Claims Act whistleblower case Barko v. Halliburton Company. For example, see “Whistleblowers and Confidentiality Agreements,” May 7, 2014.
–The SEC will likely continue to focus on whistleblower retaliation. It’s becoming a standard area of inquiry, according to one of the experts interviewed.
–Companies may become more cautious with how they act towards internal tipsters. They will want to avoid the perception (or the reality) of retaliation against employees who raise concerns.
–Record False Claims Act recoveries should continue. In recent years, according to Ensign’s blog post, health care and defense companies have incurred major expenses in connection with False Claims Act suits. The Justice Department will continue to pursue these kinds of cases.
–The status of foreign whistleblowers will remain uncertain, but whether or not they receive all the protection afforded U.S. employees, foreign whistleblowers are still making reports and getting awards.
It’s worth paying attention to these predictions; the Wall Street Journal’s 2014 predictions weren’t far off, according to Ensign, who wrote the 2014 post as well. Last year’s predictions called for big SEC whistleblower awards (check), ongoing strength of False Claims Act cases (check), courts continuing to define who counts as a whistleblower (with mixed results in 2014), and SEC prioritizing its attention to whistleblower retaliation cases (as they did).
Last year’s experts also predicted that companies would try to find creative ways to encourage internal whistleblowing. It is not clear how well that prediction hit the mark, but certainly traditional methods, such as ethics hotlines, continue to evolve and grow. 2015 will be an interesting year, don’t you think?
Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions, including ethics and compliance training and confidential and anonymous hotlines, meeting False Claims Act and other regulatory and reporting expectations. Contact us for more information.
Ensign, Rachel. “Big Whistleblower Predictions for 2015.” Risk & Compliance Report blog, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2015.
Ensign, Rachel. “Why 2014 could be Huge for Corporate Whistleblowers.” Risk & Compliance Report blog, Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2014.