Everyone knows that the costs related to Walmart’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigation are huge – more than $200 billion spent already. And all Walmart staff are familiar with the Walmart Global Ethics Office – it’s the place that most would go if they had information that might aid the investigation. But everyone probably doesn’t know about whistleblower protections that were part of the Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010. Under Dodd-Frank, employees are given financial incentives and anti-retaliation protections for reporting securities violations like the FCPA to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Most anticipated that the anti-retaliation protections would apply to a whistleblower whether they reported the issue to their employer or to the government, and initial court decisions supported that interpretation. But before you pick up the phone and call the Global Ethics Office, you should know that a recent Circuit Court decision has taken the opposite position. Whistleblowers who report violations to their employer are not protected by Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation proceedings. The only way to get the protections is to report FCPA allegations to the SEC by filing a whistleblower report.
Something to keep in mind the next time you want to report a concern about bribery or corruption.