Exchange Act Rule 21F-17, adopted in 2011 under the auspices of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, prohibits any person from taking any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the SEC, including by “enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement . . . .”  The SEC has prioritized enforcing this rule expansively, by requiring employers to provide SEC-specific carveouts to policies and agreements governing confidentiality.  According to an Order issued last week against The Brink’s Company ( “Brink’s” or “Brinks”), the SEC seems to suggest that employers must provide a specific carveout in restrictive covenant agreements permitting employees and former employees to report information to the SEC in addition to the statutory disclosure provided for in the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).

Continue Reading Employers Beware – SEC Renews Enforcement Initiative Against Agreements (This Time a Non-Compete) That Interfere with Whistleblowers’ Unfettered Access to the SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Whistleblower Program under the Biden administration has picked up where it left off under President Obama, aggressively enforcing Rule 21F-17(a) against employers whose policies may impede employees from communicating with the SEC.  On June 23, 2021, the SEC fined Guggenheim Securities, LLC (“Guggenheim”) for maintaining a policy that it contended impeded potential whistleblowers from communicating with the SEC by requiring employees to obtain permission before reporting securities violations. Even though the SEC was unaware of any instances in which a Guggenheim employee was prevented from reporting a potential securities law violation or in which Guggenheim acted to enforce the policy, the SEC nevertheless found that the company had violated Rule 21F-17(a).

Continue Reading Back in the Saddle: SEC’s Whistleblower Program Is in Full Swing Under the Biden Administration

Recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert to provide broker-dealers with guidance on examinations regarding regulation Best Interest (“Reg BI”).  Reg BI requires that when broker-dealers make a recommendation regarding securities to a retail customer it must act in the best interest of

On August 20, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged Mosaic Capital, LLC, formerly known as AOC Securities, LLC (“AOC”), and its CEO with failing to adequately supervise an employee who engaged in securities fraud.  Pursuant to the SEC Orders, AOC and its CEO were ordered to pay penalties of $250,000 and $40,000,

Broker-dealers (“BDs”) should be aware that, on June 5, 2019, the SEC adopted “Regulation Best Interest” (“Reg BI”), which requires BDs and their registered representatives (“RRs”) to “act in the best interest of the retail customer,” when “making a recommendation” regarding “a securities transaction or investment strategy.”  In addition, the SEC’s new

Featured on Employment Law This Week:  The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently issued the largest whistleblower awards under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) in history.

Affirming the payout of over $49 million to two whistleblowers and over $33 million to a third for information that led to successful

On March 19, 2018, the SEC issued an Order jointly awarding two whistleblowers more than $49 million, and awarding a third whistleblower more than $33 million, for reporting information to the SEC that led to its successful prosecution of an enforcement action against the perpetrators of securities violations.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act amended the

Featured on Employment Law This Week: Supreme Court: Dodd-Frank Protections Are Limited

Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections are limited – The Supreme Court has ruled that whistleblower protections under the Dodd-Frank Act apply only to those who report violations to the SEC. The Act protects whistleblowers from termination, demotion, and harassment. People who report to the

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a circuit split and ruled in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers that Dodd-Frank’s anti-whistleblower retaliation provision (15 U.S.C. § 78u–6(h)) does not protect employees who report alleged securities violations only to their employers, and not to the SEC.

Paul Somers (“Somers”), a former Vice President

Last August, we reported on two significant cease-and-desist orders issued by the SEC that, for the first time, found certain language in the confidentiality and release provisions of separation agreements to violate the SEC’s Rule 21F-17(a), which precludes anyone from impeding any individual (i.e., a whistleblower) from communicating directly with the agency.[1] Since