Image of Sarbanes-Oxley Authorizes Damages for Reputational Harm

Sarbanes-Oxley Authorizes Damages for Reputational Harm

Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Damages and Remedies

In a Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower retaliation lawsuit headed to trial, Judge Sweet denied J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s (JPMC) motion in limine to prohibit SOX whistleblower Jennifer Sharkey from introducing evidence regarding reputational damage, harm to career, and emotional distress.

JPMC asserted that the whistleblower protection provision of SOX does not cover damages for loss of reputation and emotional distress.  Judge Sweet, however, held in his order that the “majority of authority in this area” permits SOX whistleblowers to recover damages for reputational injury:

More recently, the Honorable William H. Pauley III held that “With respect to damages for emotional distress, every circuit court to address the issue holds that such damages may be recoverable pursuant to SOX’s language stating that a prevailing employee `shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.'” Feldman-Boland v. Stanley, No. 15 Civ. 6698, 2016 WL 3826285, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. July 13, 2016) (citing the statutory language). Consistent with the reasoning in Feldman-Boland, other Courts have found that reputational injury is also compensable under SOX. “When reputational injury caused by an employer’s unlawful discrimination diminishes a plaintiff’s future earnings capacity, [she] cannot be made whole without compensation for the lost future earnings [she] would have received absent the employer’s unlawful activity.” Mahony v. KeySpan Corp., No. 04 CV 554 (SJ), 2007 WL 805813, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. March 12, 2007).

The ability of a SOX whistleblower to offer evidence of reputational injury is critical because retaliation can derail a whistleblower’s career and force the whistleblower to suffer substantial damages for lost future earnings.  Recently a SOX whistleblower was awarded  $2.7M in front pay in part because “his prospects for future employment are unpromising in part due to Defendant’s violations of his rights.”  The whistleblower in that case was featured in an article in Corporate Counsel magazine entitled How to Help a Whistleblower.

Drawing on our substantial experience representing corporate whistleblowers, we have published a free guide to SOX titled Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers.

Experienced Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Attorneys

best sexual harassment attorneys Washington DC Maryland VirginiaThe top-rated whistleblower lawyers at Zuckerman Law have substantial experience litigating Sarbanes Oxley whistleblower retaliation claims and have achieved substantial recoveries for officers, executives, accountants, auditors, and other senior professionals.  To learn more about corporate whistleblower protections, see our Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection FAQ.  Click here to read client testimonials about the firm’s work in SOX whistleblower matters and other employment-related litigation.

To schedule a free preliminary consultation, click here or call us at 202-262-8959.




Leading whistleblower law firm Zuckerman Law has written extensively about whistleblower protections and is quoted frequently in the media on this topic. A sample of those blog posts and articles appears below:

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Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.