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Some whistleblowers face unfair retaliation from Texas companies

Being named a financial firm "whistleblower" can be seen as a less-than-flattering moniker. However, many Texas whistleblowers are unnecessarily facing retaliation when some feel they should be heralded for their willingness to tell the truth. In fact, the fear of retaliation, though a common and understandable reaction, is one of the barriers that keeps people from coming forward.

Although there exists regulations to protect whistleblowers, especially those in the financial field, some whistleblowers may still feel handicapped by worries that their employers will take revenge if they say anything. Some companies are taking legal action against whistleblowers, which many feel is, in essence, an act of corporate bullying. Their fears aren't unreasonable; in Houston, a recent case between GE and a former employer shows how complex the laws protecting employees can be. In a nutshell, the case ended with a verdict supporting GE and not the worker, although the counsel for the worker has indicated they will appeal the result.

To be sure, there have been some recent positive developments for financial employees who feel morally compelled to expose wrongdoing. At the end of 2012, the SEC reported that a newly-created whistleblower cash reward program had eliminated some of the retaliation issues in the area of financial fraud. More cash award programs are expected to be issued by the SEC in the coming months and years.

In the meantime, Texas would-be whistleblowers need to know that they can exercise their responsibilities without being afraid of retaliation. They also deserve to understand their rights under the Dodd-Frank Act. In the end, no company should get away with unethical practices.

Source: accountingweb.com, Whistleblowers Need Encouragement, Not Roadblocks, Curtis C Verschoor, Oct. 11, 2013

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