It has been a year and a half since the #MeToo movement roared to life with an exposé of the sexual harassment and assaults by film executive Harvey Weinstein. Since October of 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported a significant increase in sexual-harassment complaints even as reports of all types of workplace harassment declined.
Wells Fargo is one of the nation's largest banks, but it has been embroiled in scandal after revelations that employees illegally opened as many as 2 million unauthorized accounts. The latest shockwave to roil the company came when members of Congress spoke at a recent hearing about how Wells Fargo workers who reported the illegal activities were fired for blowing the whistle. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee said a woman who worked for the bank in her district was pushed out after filing a complaint about the unethical sales activities that resulted in the unauthorized accounts.
Wisconsin employees may be interested in learning more about the first-ever whistleblower payment made by the Securities Exchange Commission on April 28. The reward was given as a part of the federal government's new whistleblower rewards initiative. The recipient of the reward was a former hedge trader victimized by retaliation after he reported issues concerning internal conflicts of interests. According to the SEC, the former Paradigm Capital Management trader was also subjected to other unique hardships in addition to the retaliation.
Wisconsin residents with ties to VA hospitals may be surprised to learn about allegations of retaliation against whistle-blowers at the agency. Beginning in 2014, there have been a number of scandals associated with treatment of patients in the hospital system including long wait times during which some patients have died while waiting for treatment. The panel of whistle-blowers who testified April 13 before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs were drawn from a number of states including California, Alabama and Delaware.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is enforcing whistleblower protections provided within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It wants employers in Wisconsin and across the country to observe whistleblower protections in its employee contracts and agreements. The commission has requested documents from numerous companies in an effort to identify violations within confidentiality agreements, employment contracts and non-disclosure agreements.
People in Wisconsin may be interested to learn about a recent announcement made by the Securities and Exchange Commission about the results of its first enforcement action the agency filed against a Houston-based company. The publicly traded company was fined for its policies and confidentiality agreements that could have potentially prevented whistleblowers from reporting securities violations to federal authorities.
Whistleblower employees of publicly traded companies in Wisconsin and across the nation are protected from retaliation when they bring forward suspected illegal or unethical action. In 2013, an employee of Paramount Pictures highlighted concerns about an executive who was over-charging the company for travel expense reimbursements.
As some Minnesota residents may know, speaking out about an employer's illegal or unethical behavior is protected under the law. The employer may not retaliate against the employee due to his or her disclosure. A whistleblower lawsuit may be filed against a former employer if this right to speak out is threatened.
Wisconsin employees may be interested in some information about a new final whistle-blower rule passed by the federal government. This final rule has been years in the making, but continues the policies in effect for a while.
Employees in Wisconsin may have heard that on March 2, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would be issuing the first whistle-blower payout to a former company officer. The individual received a payout that ranges from $475,000 to $575,000 for becoming a whistle-blower. This particular case also involved an exception to the standard rules that define whistle-blower laws.