HOW ARE OBAMA AND CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS DOING IN ENFORCING ALL THOSE FEDERAL LAWS THEY TOLD US WERE HOLDING CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE?
Australia was one of the most progressive social democracies in the developed world------just a few decades ago and today-----it is totally controlled by global corporate neo-liberals. We saw how it happened in the US----all the lying, cheating, and stealing that makes it hard to know a democratic primary candidate. What we see below is what will take hold here in the US------we already see it at the national level and as this article states-----Dodd Frank placed protections for whistleblowers while posing progressive while absolutely nothing has been done to enforce these laws----SOUND FAMILIAR.
The point is this-----if we do not reverse this hold on the Democratic Party by Clinton/Obama neo-liberals we will see this corporate autocratic hold broaden-----it is critical and easy to reverse----
BE THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE IN ALL LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL PRIMARY ELECTIONS---THERE IS STILL TIME TO FILE.
'What is alarming is that even with the additional protection offered by SOX for corporate whistleblowers, the Wall Street Journal identified 300 whistle-blower employees who had filed claims against their previous employer for been penalised and none had been reinstated'.
posted on 24 November 2015
Troublemakers And Traitors - It's No Fun Being A Whistleblower
from The Conversation
-- this post authored by Jeanette Van Akkeren and Julie-Anne Tarr, Queensland University of Technology
Death threats, smear campaigns and financial ruin - it may sound like a John Grisham novel, but the sad reality is that this has been the consequence for many public and corporate whistleblowers.
VA whistleblowers detail retaliation at hearing
07/08/14 03:33 PM--Updated 07/08/14 10:25 PM
facebook twitter 1 save share group 6
By Meredith ClarkTransfers, harassment, altered personnel records, mysterious breaks between paychecks.
Those are just some of the forms of retaliation described by four whistleblowers from four different regional VA systems, who testified Tuesday night before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The hearing is likely to add to current Veterans Affairs secretary nominee Robert McDonald’s long list of agency problems that have come to light since news of the VA scandal broke in April.
Veterans Affairs whistleblowers face 'long slog' in fighting retaliation
By Mark Flatten (@markflatten) • 5/22/14 10:45 AMRetaliation comes quickly to whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Those who have revealed potentially lethal lapses in health care say they have been ridiculed, transferred, demoted and sometimes fired by agency managers attempting to cover up wrongdoing and silence anyone who dares challenge their dangerous practices.
The fates of those who have already stepped forward are critical now. The agency's inspector general is investigating reports across the country that patient records were falsified or destroyed to hide long wait times for medical care.
The IG is checking multiple allegations of phony appointment logs and other practices that endangered veterans' lives in 26 veterans' medical facilities nationwide.
Getting to the truth will depend in part on the willingness of rank-and-file employees to tell what they know, and have faith that they will be protected.
"My individual case is horrible," said Oliver Mitchell, a former Marine who in 2009 exposed the mass cancellation of medical appointments to hide long backlogs at the veterans’ hospital in Los Angeles.
Mitchell was stripped of his duties, put on administrative leave and eventually separated from the agency shortly after he reported the purging of medical appointments to the inspector general.
The IG closed Mitchell's complaint after VA officials claimed the "mass purge" of appointments was within policy. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the agency that is supposed to protect whistleblowers, also dropped his case.
Mitchell said he got no help from either office.
What we saw right after this Dodd Frank 'attack on fraud' the SEC is pretending exists today------are these corporate agreements that say-----employees cannot be whistleblowers. Now, Rule of Law REQUIRES citizens to inform authorities when they know of crime ------if not, they are aiding and abetting these crimes. It would be a quick act of Constitutional law for the SEC to say----THESE AGREEMENTS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND CANNOT STAND.
If you Google SEC and whistleblower cases you would think something is being done-----it is like the provisions in Medicare that state they are fighting Medicare fraud. ALL OF THIS IS JUST PROGRESSIVE POSING. The SEC and the Medicare Administration has done little to fight fraud or to encourage whistleblowers.
Agreements may discourage fraud reports
By Scott Higham , Kaley Belval
Monday, June 30th, 2014
In November 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy asked contract employees at the Hanford plutonium processing plant in Washington state to take an unusual oath.
The DOE wanted them to sign nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from reporting wrongdoing at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear facility without getting approval from an agency supervisor. The agreements also barred them from using any information for financial gain, a possible violation of federal whistleblower laws, which allow employees to collect reward money for reporting wrongdoing.
Donna Busche reluctantly signed the agreement.
“It was a gag order,” said Busche, 51, who served as the manager of environmental and nuclear safety at the Hanford waste treatment facility for a federal contractor until she was fired in February after raising safety concerns. “The message was pretty clear: ‘Don’t say anything to anyone, or else.’ ”
The company that fired Busche, URS, has said her termination was unrelated to her whistleblowing. Busche and another employee testified before Congress in March at a hearing called by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to examine the handling of whistleblowers at Hanford.
An Energy spokesman denied that the nondisclosure agreements violated federal law.
The DOE fully complies with the law,” Brendan Daly said. “We not only encourage but require contractors to report waste, fraud and abuse, with no retaliation.”
Lawyers who represent whistleblowers like Busche say they are seeing a rise in the use of overly restrictive nondisclosure agreements, which prevent employees from reporting fraud, even to government investigators. The agreements incorporate language that goes beyond those that had traditionally protected proprietary information, the attorneys said. In recent months, agreements criticized as overly restrictive have surfaced at Kellogg, Brown and Root, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, and International Relief and Development, a nonprofit organization in Arlington County, Va. The nonprofit collected more than $1 billion in tax dollars for war-related projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the agreements at KBR, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is examining the agreements used by IRD. Both companies have denied wrongdoing, and IRD changed the wording of its agreements after they were written about in The Washington Post.
Fear of retaliation for reporting fraud in the workplace is on the rise, according to surveys of federal employees and workers on Wall Street. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs retaliated against 37 workers who had come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. Some of those employees had tried to report problems with the VA’s medical appointment scheduling system, which is now the subject of a growing national controversy.
The federal government has been encouraging whistleblowers to come forward and trying to protect them since the Civil War, when Congress passed the False Claims Act to punish war profiteers. Under the act, whistleblowers are entitled to collect a percentage of the fraud they uncover. In one of the largest such cases, American banker Bradley Birkenfeld reported secret deposits by U.S. citizens in the Swiss bank UBS. In 2012, he collected a $104 million bounty.
Other famous whistleblowers include Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War to the New York Times; Karen Silkwood, who reported safety issues at a nuclear facility run by Kerr-McKee and died in a mysterious car crash; and A. Ernest Fitzgerald, an Air Force official during the Nixon administration who blew the whistle on widespread fraud at the Pentagon, including $400 hammers and $600 toilet seats.
Increased protectionPressure to bolster whistleblower laws and provide more protection for those who come forward mounted after reports of fraud in the banking and financial services industries that led to the Great Recession of 2007-09. In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which established the Office of the Whistleblower at the SEC. The law also created a bounty program at the SEC to pay whistleblowers.
On June 16, the new SEC whistleblower office announced that it had filed its first civil case, involving a whistleblower who accused a hedge fund of retaliation after the whistleblower reported improper trading activity. The hedge fund settled by paying a $2.2 million fine.
Nondisclosure agreements traditionally have been used to prevent employees from going to competitors and taking trade secrets with them. But lawyers for whistleblowers say they are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of potentially illegal agreements employees are being asked to sign since the Dodd-Frank law went into effect.
“Corporate America is becoming far more sophisticated and aggressive in its efforts to discourage people from coming forward and reporting externally,” said Jordan A. Thomas, who helped to establish the SEC’s whistleblower office as an assistant director there and now works for a New York law firm, Labaton Sucharow. One of his clients is the hedge-fund whistleblower.
Thomas said he has other clients who work for Wall Street firms that are under investigation by the SEC and were asked to sign overly restrictive nondisclosure agreements that prohibit or discourage them from cooperating with federal investigators.
Whistleblower experts say corporations are trying to shield themselves after the Dodd-Frank law by creating rigid internal reporting rules, such as requiring people to report wrongdoing to their supervisors at work before going to outside investigators. Companies are also asking workers to sign agreements that bar them from speaking out or benefiting from the bounty program.
“We are seeing a marked increase in an effort by employers to prevent their employees from speaking to regulators,” said David J. Marshall, a partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks, a whistleblower law firm in Washington. “As these whistleblower programs have grown more prominent, we have seen a growth in the number of types of agreements. They have a truly chilling effect on employees coming forward.”
'Deeply troubling’SEC officials say they are taking the reports seriously.
“I’m very concerned about these kinds of agreements,” said Stephen L. Cohen, associate director of the Division of Enforcement at the SEC. “It is likely that a lot of people are not coming to us because of these agreements. Anything that inhibits a person’s desire to come forward to tell us about violations of the law is deeply troubling.”
The SEC prohibits corporations from preventing workers from communicating with the agency about possible securities-law violations, “including enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement,” according to agency regulations.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, (R-Iowa), a leading advocate for whistleblowers, said he has discovered that most federal agencies have been failing to comply with anti-gag provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. Under the 2012 act, federal agencies are required to notify employees that they are obligated to report fraud allegations, even if they have signed nondisclosure agreements.
Grassley’s office surveyed 15 Cabinet-level departments covering much of the federal workforce and found that most have not made that message clear to their workers.
“More than ever I’m hearing from whistleblowers about nondisclosure agreements being forced upon them by federal agencies.” Grassley said. “It’s a disturbing trend because federal law protects their right to make protected disclosures to Congress and inspectors general, among others. These agreements only serve to silence whistleblowers for fear of retribution.”
After the passage of Dodd-Frank and an earlier reform bill, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which imposed strict financial disclosure requirements on companies and improved protections for whistleblowers, U.S. corporations found themselves in uncharted legal territory, employment law experts say.
Many corporate executives say the Dodd-Frank legislation will discourage employees from reporting problems within their own companies to cash in on the SEC bounty program. And it could inspire employees to concoct fraudulent allegations, the executives say.
Employment lawyers say those fears may be unfounded.
“What we’ve seen is a siege mentality at corporations, where there is a fear that there will be a rush of people running to the authorities,” said Donna Boehme, the former chief compliance officer for BP who is now a leading national expert in the corporate compliance field. “Companies that care, they want people to come forward and they want people to feel safe. Companies that don’t care, they intentionally create a chilling effect.”
Boehme cited the nondisclosure agreements at KBR as a significant case study for corporate compliance officers and whistleblower lawyers.
In 2005, KBR contract employee Harry Barko, who was based in central Iraq, came forward to say he had witnessed fraud in a multibillion-dollar program awarded to the company to provide support services on U.S. military bases in Iraq. After Barko complained internally, he said his computer was confiscated at the request of the company’s legal department in Houston. He said KBR then tried to transfer him from the Al Asad Air Base to Baghdad.
“I was in the cross hairs,” Barko said in a recent interview.
He said he left Iraq, contacted a Washington law firm that specializes in whistleblower cases and filed a lawsuit against KBR and its parent company at the time, Halliburton. The companies are no longer affiliated. KBR has denied wrongdoing and is seeking to have Barko’s lawsuit dismissed.
Earlier this year, during a deposition in the lawsuit, KBR’s vice president of legal affairs disclosed the existence of a three-paragraph nondisclosure agreement the company had been using for internal fraud investigations.
The agreements prohibited employees seeking to report fraud from discussing their allegations without authorization from KBR’s general counsel. Employees also were warned that violations of the agreements could result in “termination of employment.”
KBR officials said the agreements were designed to protect the integrity of the internal review process, not to cover up wrongdoing. They also noted that KBR employees are encouraged to report allegations of fraud.
Since the agreements surfaced in February, Barko’s lawyer, Stephen M. Kohn, has been trying to force KBR to disclose all reports of fraud the company received relating to the logistics contract. KBR attorneys argued that those reports were protected by attorney-client privilege and should not be released.
A federal judge ruled earlier this year that the agreements were not protected, but a three-judge appellate court panel on Friday sided with KBR. Kohn said he plans to appeal.
Subtle changesWhile the KBR agreements use direct language, others that have been surfacing in the workplace are more subtle, whistleblower lawyers say. Some instruct employees to report wrongdoing to the company before alerting an outside agency. Others tell employees that they cannot collect monetary awards for fraud they uncover.
“There has been a shift from the traditional, sweeping gag orders to more disingenuous variations of these agreements,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, which represents numerous whistleblowers, including former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. “The techniques are becoming much more sophisticated, but they have the same chilling effect.”
Cohen, the SEC enforcement official, said his agency is paying attention to the kinds of nondisclosure agreements employees are being asked to sign.
“We have our eyes wide open,” Cohen said.
Kaley Belval is a researcher and reporter at the Investigative Reporting Workshop and is attached to The Post’s Investigative Unit through a program led by Workshop Senior Editor and Post investigative reporter John Sullivan.
'BUT THE SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK AS INTENDED.
I call all these laws passed to quell citizens' outrage PROGRESSIVE POSING. These global pols are simply passing laws at national, state, and local level with no intention of enforcing these laws. Maryland is ground zero for this and Baltimore pols are usually the ones trying to pose progressive with laws that look to be social justice but are not.
This is a great concern as these global pols are trying to install government structures that will not even recognize US citizens as having rights or a US Constitution at all. So, these Clinton/Obama neo-liberals are simply ignoring and failing to enforce laws because they think all structures requiring this will disappear with the Trans Pacific Trade Pact and International Economic Zone policies.
WE MUST HAVE DEMOCRATS RUNNING IN PRIMARIES SHOUTING FOR THIS ENDING OF FRAUD AND CORRUPTION-----SOCIAL DEMOCRATS ENFORCE RULE OF LAW FOR WHITE COLLAR CRIMES THAT ALMOST ALWAYS TAKE FROM EMPLOYEES, TAXPAYERS, OR THE POOR.
Non-profit whistleblower organizations say that the US Department of Justice has laws in place to protect FBI whistleblowers from retaliation, but the system does not work as intended
.WASHINGTON — The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has laws in place to protect US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblowers from retaliation, but the system does not work as intended, non-profit whistleblower organizations told Sputnik.
“The Justice Department’s program for protecting FBI whistleblowers is broken and does not work,” National Whistleblowers Center Executive Director Steven Kohn said on Thursday.
“It can take over 10 years for a simple case to be processed and most cases are dismissed on technicalities,” Kohn added.
Kohn explained that one of the biggest problems with the existing law is that FBI agents can be fired after they reports misconduct to their supervisor.
Whistleblower Support Fund President and author of the book “Don’t Kill the Messenger” Donald Soeken said the FBI and other federal agencies are run top down, which creates a situation where whistleblowing is equated with disloyalty.
“Any part of the agency that gives assistance to whistleblowers is seen as disloyal,” he said. Those who support whistleblowers even though that is their job will be harmed for doing their job.”
Soeken, himself a whistleblower in 1978, said that the retaliation is real and those who have blown the whistle know they will end their career.
“You are told… ’We want ethical people in the government. We don’t want cheating.’ But when you do [blow the whistle], you find out they didn’t really mean it, because it involves your superiors,” Soeken said.
Kohn, however, pointed out that those FBI agents who become whistleblowers are blocked from going to court because no judicial review exists at present.
“We are challenging that in court right now. We are hoping that Congress will amend the law and fix these terrible problems,” Kohn said.
Soeken argued that new regulations on whistleblowing should be non-political, taken out of the Executive Branch and placed in an independent group like the National Labor Relations Board to administer the whistleblower laws.
The US Government Accountability Office said in a report published on Wednesday that the FBI does not have an adequate process in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. The DOJ has dismissed 44 out of 62 complaints of whistleblower retaliation, according to the report.
I sat at a Maryland Assembly committee meeting about the fate of the State Insurance officials tied with the failures of Maryland's Health Insurance Internet website. Part of the illegal actions fell on how subcontractors were hired and given no oversight and accountability. What was striking with this committee meeting to grill these state employees on these violations of law was the apparent discomfort of those auditors who found all the wrongdoing in this state agency.
We are seeing not only employees witnessing wrongdoing facing retaliation for reporting crime-----we are seeing audit teams sent in for oversight and accountability feeling pressure for exposing this wrongdoing. This is happening at all levels of government----Federal, state, and local as global corporate neo-liberals and neo-conservatives work exclusively to protect global corporations and their profits---NO MATTER HOW THOSE PROFITS WERE OBTAINED.
Business Headlines: Whistleblowers Not Protected; Cuts & Consequences
By Lisa van der Pool, Boston Business Journal February 8, 2012 7:32 AM
BOSTON (CBS) – The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a law protecting whistleblowers at publicly traded companies does not cover mutual fund employees.
The case involves two workers who used to work for Fidelity Investments.
Two plaintiffs say Fidelity came after them after they told regulators about illegal practices at the company.
But a court ruled mutual funds themselves have no employees and are not covered by a 2002 law passed to prevent financial fraud.
Below you see what should be familiar to Maryland citizens----SARBANES OXLEY ACT. This was an act sponsored by the father of today's John Sarbanes who famously told me when I asked why John was not shouting that Wall Street executives be prosecuted under crimes against Sarbanes-Oxley-----I DON'T FEEL THAT WAY TOWARDS BUSINESS.
Sarbanes Oxley was the low-hanging fruit for prosecuting all Wall Street bank executives-----the evidence was there----AND NOT ONE CONGRESSIONAL POLITICIAN SAID A WORD ABOUT ENFORCING SARBANES OXLEY----not even the son of the Democrat writing this law.
What is important to this conversation on protections for whistle-blowers found in Sarbanes Oxley----is none of this is being enforced as well. It is this breakdown in enforcing of Federal law from Clinton ----to Bush---and now Obama-----that comes with global pols pretending our US Constitution does not exist and that global corporate tribunals will decide corporate law.
All of this is illegal and our pols thinking they can ignore all the enforcement of law are aiding and abetting fraud and corruption AND NEED TO GO.
We can reverse this easy peasy by getting rid of Wall Street global pols by running REAL SOCIAL DEMOCRATS IN ALL DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY ELECTIONS.
Corporate Whistleblower Protection and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Authored by Adam Vukovic, LegalMatch Legal Writer
Locate a Local Employment LawyerMost Common Employment Law Issues:
- Sexual Harassment
- Employment Contracts
- Wages and Overtime Pay
- Employment Discrimination
- Workplace Disputes
- Pensions and Benefits
- Wrongful Termination
Find a category or issue not listed
What Is a Whistleblower?
A “whistleblower” is someone, usually an employee, who reports an employer who has broken the law to an outside agency. Whistleblowers are protected by federal and state laws. Employers may not retaliate against them for reporting misconduct. Whistleblowers may not be fired or otherwise mistreated, and in some instances the government may reimburse them for costs incurred as a result of reporting.
Which Laws Protect Whistleblowers?
Whistleblowers are protected by a variety of state and federal laws. The main federal law that protects whistleblowers is the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows employees to report instances involving fraudulent or false reports made to the government. It also protects informers from retaliation by their employer. The False Claims Act deals mainly with the federal government and federal contractors. Several states also have their own versions of False Claims Acts. Check with your local or state government to see if your state has a False Claims Act.
What Is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and How Does It Protect Whistleblowers?
A newer law provides protection for whistleblowers who are employed in a publicly traded company such as a corporation. This law is called the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002," commonly referred to as “SOX”.
Companies covered by the Act are those that are registered under the Securities Exchange Act and those that are required to file reports with the Securities Exchange Commission. The Act also covers actions made by contractors or agents of the corporation.
SOX was implemented in response to widespread fraud being practiced by large corporations at the time. Most people associate SOX with issues such as improper corporate governance and accounting issues. However, SOX also contains a major provision which deals with whistleblowers in a corporate setting. Employers can file a claim under SOX against an employer who has violated the law. Like other federal statutes, SOX also protects such whistleblowers from employer retaliation.
Which Specific Sections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act Address Whistleblowing?
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act expanded the protection provided previously by the False Claims Act into the area of corporate organizations. SOX provided three major additions to the area of corporate whistleblower law:
- Instituting Reporting Procedures- Section 302of the Act requires publicly held companies to institute a venue for handling reports made by anonymous whistle-blowers. This section requires audit committees to establish and institute procedures for employees who wish to report questionable practices while remaining anonymous
- Investigations- Section 806 of SOX requires that any investigation conducted after a complaint is filed must not involve any threats of discharge, demotion, suspension or harassment against a person who has acted lawfully in reporting evidence of company fraud
- Criminal Offense- Section 1107 of the Act makes it a criminal offense for employers to retaliate against informants. According to this section, retaliating against an informant can result in significant fines and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years
What Kinds of Actions by the Employer Constitute Retaliation?
An employee’s actions are considered to be retaliation if their employee’s lawful reporting was a contributing factor in the decision to take “unfavorable” action. Unfavorable retaliatory action can include:
- Discharging or laying off (firing) the employee
- Placing the employee on a blacklist (“do not hire” list)
- Demotion from a position
- Pay reductions or reductions in hours
- Withholding of wages, overtime pay, or promotions
- Denying benefits
- Not hiring or rehiring the person
- Intimidating, harassing, or otherwise mistreating the employee
- Reassignment to an unsuitable post or position
A person who was retaliated against for whistleblowing may be entitled to the following remedies:
- Being hired or rehired
- Restoration of benefits that were previously denied
- Payment of back wages owed, plus interest
- Restoration to position of seniority
- Compensation for lost benefits such as retirement, vacation, or sick leave
- Special damages for losses indirectly caused by the retaliation (such as emotional distress or damage to professional reputation)
- Attorney’s fees and litigations expenses such as expert witness fees
- “Affirmation”- letters of apology to the aggrieved employee
- Other compensation that will help the employee be “made whole” again
Aggrieved employees must first file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) before they are allowed to file suit in a civil court. Filing a complaint with OSHA requires:
- A written complaint must be submitted to OSHA within 90 days of the violation (when the employee became aware of the retaliation).
- After the complaint is received, OSHA will review the complaint to determine whether an investigation is necessary
- After investigations, OSHA will determine whether the employer is guilty and if a settlement can be reached in order to compensate the employee
- If an agreement cannot be reached after 180 days after filing the complaint, the employee may then sue in a state or federal court
- OSHA decisions are final and the person filing the complaint has 30 days to appeal any decisions. Appeals are heard before an administrative law judge or before OSHA’s review board