Whistleblowers are buoyed by the Supreme Court’s UBS case
Companies in industries ranging from finance to airlines and consumer products will have a harder time defending themselves against whistleblowing employee retaliation claims after the US Supreme Court sided with a former UBS researcher who was fired.
According to the justices, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act doesn’t require whistleblowers to prove their employer had animus, which is retaliatory intent. To win retaliation claims for whistleblowers, plaintiffs must meet a higher burden of proof, as stated in the decision by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The recent Supreme Court decision on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a significant win for whistleblowers, extending to other federal laws. It covers federal employees and various sectors, removing the need for whistleblowers to prove retaliatory intent and simplifying their ability to come forward.
Despite opposition from business groups, the ruling sets a more pro-employee standard for whistleblower protection. The decision is expected to impact similar cases under various federal employment laws.
The interpretation aligns with 16 federal laws, establishing a burden-shifting framework and requiring employees to show their whistleblowing contributed to adverse actions without proving retaliatory intent.
This victory underscores the global trend of encouraging and safeguarding whistleblowers to expose misconduct. It emphasises the need for open whistleblower channels within companies to address issues early on. The decision has implications for diverse sectors, reinforcing whistleblower protections to prevent corporate fraud.