SEC Combats Confidentiality Agreements
Whistleblower lawyer Jason Zuckerman was quoted in an article in The Washington Post titled SEC says confidentiality agreements may have ‘muzzled’ whistleblowers at top government contractor The article reports that the SEC took enforcement action against government contractor KBR for requiring employees to sign confidentiality agreements with the potential to stifle the whistleblowing process. KBR required witnesses in certain internal investigations interviews to sign confidentiality statements with language warning that they could face discipline if they discussed the matters with outside parties without the prior approval of KBR’s legal department.
The SEC found that these agreements violated Rule 21F-17, which provides that “[n]o person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement…with respect to such communications.”
The article quotes Zuckerman’s observation that the SEC’s order “is a huge win for corporate accountability and transparency.” Zuckerman also noted that companies will need to review and revise their policies to comply with the order.
SEC Whistleblower Protection Lawyers
Whistleblower attorney Jason Zuckerman has taken a leading role in combatting corporate muzzling of whistleblowers. He co-authored an article with Professor Richard Moberly and Jordan Thomas titled De Facto Gag Clauses: The Legality of Employment Agreements That Undermine Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Provisions. And Zuckerman recently partnered with the Government Accountability Project to submit a rulemaking petition to the Department of Labor (DOL) asking it to strengthen prohibitions against companies using gag clauses in policies and agreements that undermine federal whistleblower protection laws. In response to the petition, OSHA issued guidance prohibiting settlement provisions that could impede whistleblowing.
The experienced whistleblower lawyers at Zuckerman Law represent whistleblowers worldwide before the SEC under the Dodd-Frank SEC Whistleblower Program. The firm has a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner on staff to enhance its ability to investigate and disclose complex financial fraud to the SEC, and two of the firm’s attorneys served in high-level positions at a government agency that protects whistleblowers. Firm Principal Jason Zuckerman has been named by Washingtonian Magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” and the firm has been ranked by U.S. News as a Tier 1 Firm in Labor & Employment Litigation.
Whistleblower law firm Zuckerman Law has substantial experience investigating securities fraud schemes and preparing effective submissions to the SEC concerning a wide range of federal securities violations, including:
- Accounting fraud;
- Investment and securities fraud;
- EB-5 investment fraud;
- Manipulation of a security’s price or volume;
- Fraudulent securities offerings and Ponzi schemes;
- Unregistered securities offerings;
- Investment adviser fraud;
- False or misleading statements about a company or investment;
- Inadequate internal controls; and
- Violations of auditor independence rules.
To learn more about the SEC Whistleblower Program, download Zuckerman Law’s eBook: SEC Whistleblower Program: Tips from SEC Whistleblower Attorneys to Maximize an SEC Whistleblower Award:
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