U.S. Supreme Court makes it easier for whistleblowers to win lawsuits claiming retaliation under federal investor protection law
The justices voted unanimously against UBS, saying the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 does not require a whistleblower to prove he or she was the victim of intentional retaliation.
The court said whistleblowers citing the relevant U.S. law have the burden of proving protected activity was a contributing factor in their dismissal, but they do not need to further prove that their employer acted with retaliatory intent.
Over the past six years, employees have filed more than 750 Sarbanes-Oxley claims with the Department of Labor. The law was enacted after corporate fraud cases involving Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. were overturned.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits employers from “discriminating against employees” because they report financial misconduct.
UBS did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Murray supports UBS’s commercial mortgage-backed securities business. His lawsuit describes a “concerted, prolonged effort” by managers and colleagues to get him to write the bullish assessment.
UBS said Murray’s dismissal was part of wider staff cuts stemming from the bank’s financial difficulties at the time. UBS cited the impact of a $2 billion loss caused by the firing of a rogue trader in its London office five months before.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion.
The case is Murray v UBS,