On April 19, 2023, in Gulden v. Exxon Mobil Corp., a federal district judge in New Jersey concluded that federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to enforce preliminary orders to reinstate former employees under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”). In so doing, the district judge declined to enforce OSHA’s preliminary orders requiring ExxonMobil to reinstate two former employees to their jobs for the remainder of the agency’s investigation into the pair’s whistleblower complaint, reasoning that the statutory text only confers federal district courts authority to enforce final orders. Gulden is a win for employers because it joins the growing chorus of federal district courts that have concluded that the Department of Labor may not force a company to preliminarily reinstate an alleged whistleblower before the Secretary of Labor’s final order.
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