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Can a Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower bring a retaliation case in federal court?


SOX Whistleblower Litigation in Federal Court

Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower case must be filed initially with OSHA.  If the Department of Labor has not issued a final decision within 180 days of the filing of the complaint and the delay is not a result of the complainant’s bad faith, the complainant may file an action for de novo review in federal district court.  18 U.S.C. § 1514A(b)(1)(B).

The scope of a SOX whistleblower lawsuit in federal court covers “any charges of [retaliation] that are `like or reasonably related’ to the allegations in the [OSHA Complaint], or that fall within the `[OSHA] investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of [retaliation].” Erhart v. BOFI Holding, Inc., No. 15-cv-02287-BAS-NLS (SD California March 31, 2020).  See also Jones v. Southpeak Interactive Corp. of Del., 777 F.3d 658, 669 (4th Cir. 2015) (“the litigation may encompass claims `reasonably related to the original [administrative] complaint, and those developed by reasonable investigation of the original complaint.'”).

There is no cap on special damages under SOX, and some state whistleblower protection laws enable whistleblowers to recover punitive damages.  Recently corporate whistleblowers have obtained substantial recoveries in SOX whistleblower cases:

For more information about protections and remedies for corporate whistleblowers, download our free guide Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers.

SOX whistleblower protection

SOX Whistleblower Protection for SEC Whistleblowers

SOX Retaliation Damages and Remedies

Top-Rated SOX Whistleblower Lawyers

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

  • Matt Stock is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and former KPMG external auditor.  As an auditor, Mr. Stock developed an expertise in financial statement analysis, internal controls testing and fraud recognition, and he uses his auditing experience to help whistleblowers investigate and disclose complex financial frauds to the government and obtain damages for retaliation.  He is lead author of SEC Whistleblower Program: Tips from SEC Whistleblower Attorneys to Maximize an SEC Whistleblower Award.
  • Both Bachman and Zuckerman served in senior positions at the Office of Special Counsel, where they oversaw investigations of whistleblower retaliation claims and whistleblower disclosures, and enforced the Whistleblower Protection Act.
  • Eric Bachman has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting employment cases.  His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain.  Having served as Special Litigation Counsel in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as lead or co-counsel in numerous jury trials, Bachman is ready to go the distance to obtain the relief that you deserve.
  • Bachman and Zuckerman served on the Department of Labor’s Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor to improve OSHA’s administration of federal whistleblower protections.
  • Jason Zuckerman was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2017, 2015, 2009, and 2007, selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® in the category of employment law (2011-2017), and selected by his peers to be listed in SuperLawyers (2012 and 2015-2017) in the category of labor and employment law.  Zuckerman is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, based largely on client reviews, and rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell based on peer reviews.
  • The firm has published extensively on whistleblower rights and protections, and regularly speaks nationwide at seminars and continuing legal education conferences.  We blog about new developments in whistleblower law at the Whistleblower Protection Blog.




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.