Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Whistleblower protection extends to company contractors
NPR yesterday morning related “the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that a federal whistleblower law, enacted after the collapse of Enron Corporation, protects not just the employees of a public company, but also company contractors like lawyers, accountants, and investment funds.”
The case was Lawson. Etal v. FMR LLC, Etal , Case 12–3.
Justice Ginsburg in delivering the opinion of the Court, concluded that §1514A’s whistleblower protection includes employees of a public company’s private contractors and subcontractors, writing in the syllabus that “to safeguard investors in public companies and restore trust in the financial markets following the collapse of Enron Corporation, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. One of the Act’s provisions protects whistleblowers; at the time relevant here, that provision instructed: “No [public] company . . ., or any . . . contractor [or] subcontractor . . . of such company, may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or . . . discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because of [whistleblowing activity].” 18 U. S. C. §1514A(a).
The Court looked first to the ordinary meaning of the provision’s language, Ginsburg further explained, referring to Moskal v. United States, 498 U. S. 103, 108 (1990) “As relevant here, §1514A(a) provides that “no . . . contractor . . . may discharge . . . an employee.” The ordinary meaning of “an employee” in this proscription is the contractor’s own employee. FMR’s “narrower construction” requires inserting “of a public company” after “an employee,” but where Congress meant “an employee of a public company,” it said so.”
ScotusBlog’s Geoffrey Rapp posted an argument recapitulation and analysis of the case, and The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the ABA Journal and Reuters were among them having articles.