Massachusetts Whistleblower Changes Add Worker Protections, Incentives

Legislation that passed in Washington D.C. added consumer protections for those who act as whistleblowers in Massachusetts, providing additional help to ensure they speak up against workplace issues.

Our Massachusetts employment lawyers support these measures for employees because in order to stop discrimination in Boston and others bad acts, insiders often are needed to expose and make public these problems.
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Whistleblowers have long held an important role in uncovering scandals of insider trading, discrimination and other corporate misdeeds that outsiders would not have known about had it not been for their bravery. And many employment laws have been written in recent years to address this issue and to ensure that employees don’t face retaliation for making the truth public.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued provisions to the Dodd-Frank whistleblower rules in the spring. The new rules offer additional incentives to employees to come forward about securities law violations they witness at work.

The provisions went into effect in August and allow individuals to take home between 10 and 30 percent of the company’s penalty if what information they bring forward leads to sanctions of more than $1 million.

The new rules also no longer require employees to report possible SEC violations first to their company before going straight to the Commission. But employees do have an incentive to go to their company first. They can get a greater award if the company’s internal compliance programs uncover more information through their own work that leads to an SEC action.

A whistleblower can also report the claims to the SEC within 120 days, even if it was first reported to the company internally. Some industry analysts believe that employees will look for ways to profit from their company’s wrongs rather than working to find an internal solution.

Whistleblowers have long been needed so that government officials can take action against companies who are breaking the law. But these valuable employees — those who are willing to go against the grain and do the right thing in the face of potential risks — can also be needed in various areas of Massachusetts employment law as well.

For instance, some forms of discrimination at work are obvious — if the company only hires people of a certain gender, race or age. In that scenario everyone in the office, and likely those who interviewed but weren’t hired, sees the problem clearly.

But there are other forms of discrimination that happen behind closed doors. Private conversations with bosses and managers can sometimes lead to a clear bias against certain employees for reasons not based on their ability to do the job well. But, often, these details aren’t brought out to the rest of the staff.

Sometimes, whistleblowers in these situations are the people who can bring to light the discrimination that is going on in board room meetings and private conferences among the administrators. Whistleblowers keep companies on their toes because they are people who are willing to do the right thing when no one else at a company can or will.

A Boston business law firm, The Brown Law Firm, LLC, has offices in Belmont and Boston. For a free and confidential consultation, call Attorney Graeme Brown at 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

More Blog Entries:

Massachusetts Employment Law: Firefighter Alleges Military Service Cost Him a Promotion: November 16, 2011
Sex and Age Discrimination in Massachusetts a Common Workplace Issue: September 7, 2011

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