The Anonymous SEC Whistleblower Award of $14M is a Game Changer

October 3, 2013

Jordan A. Thomas describes the conditions that whistleblowers face when reporting their grievances externally

"Earlier awards involved small Ponzi-type schemes where there was little money [fine] to pay to a whistleblower.  But this [$14 M] appears to be from a firm that is an ongoing concern," he said.

According to Thomas, who prior to Labaton was a former Assistant Director and Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel in the Division of Enforcement at the SEC, "the SEC has a standing policy of not doing private settlements so there has been a public release of the case and settlement, we just do not know that the case involved a whistleblower."

"There has been a growing awareness of the whistleblower program but retaliation has been a major concern that has prevented people from coming forward when they see wrongdoing," Thomas said.

Thomas, whose firm handles whistleblower cases, told me of his clients that they do not take coming to his office to voice their complaint of a violation lightly.  "Their job and their company is like family," he said.  What drives people to report their grievance externally?  First, when they report internally and nothing is done and secondly, and most importantly, they report externally when they have been retaliated against.

Thomas told me that what has been frustrating to employees in the past is that ethics and compliance departments in companies have encouraged them to come forward, but when they did, their lives were made miserable through retaliation.  "When an employee has been hurt by retaliation, they no longer care about the company and look for someone to help," Thomas said.