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

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.'”).

In Liu v. FrontierKemper Constructors Inc., 2021-SOX-00031 (March 31, 2022), Judge Berlin held that SOX “places no limit on how soon after the 180 days have run before a complainant may file in the district court so long as any delay is not in bad faith.”  Judge Berlin also compared OALJ and district court adjudication of SOX claims and found that “it is likely that the process through the Department of Labor will take about two years longer than the process through the district court.”

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.


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.