9th Circuit: Whistleblowers Barred From Talking to the Press
Washington D.C. May 4, 2011. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a ruling yesterday that whistleblowers under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act cannot contact the public regarding allegations of corporate fraud.
The decision, issued in the case of Tides v. Boeing Corporation, upheld the firing of two Boeing employees, Nicholas P. Tides (a compliance specialist) and Matthew C. Neumann (an auditor) after they provided the Seattle Post-Intelligencer with credible allegations of unethical activity and fraud.
The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief on behalf of the whistleblowers. The employees were represented by Seattle attorney John J. Tollefsen, of Tollefsen Law PLLC.
According to Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the NWC: “This ruling is a major setback. Permitting companies to fire workers who talk to the press will have a chilling effect on whistleblowers, and stifle the ability of the government to learn about misconduct.”
Mr. Kohn added, “The ruling is illogical. Under this decision, corporate insiders can discuss fraud among themselves, but if an employee attempts to alert investors or the news media, they can be fired. The news media has historically played a vital role in informing government officials and the public about potential wrongdoing. We hope that Nicholas Tides and Matthew Neumann appeal this ruling.”
Decision of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
National Whistleblowers Center’s amicus curiae brief
Lower Court’s Decision
For more information about Tides v. Boeing read NWC Legal Director Richard Renner’s blog posting
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