Eight Democratic members of the House Committees on Financial Services and Oversight and Government Reform told Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White Monday to “promptly” inform them about the efforts the Commission is taking — as well as challenges the agency is facing — to address corporate practices to deter whistleblowers.
In their letter, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member on the financial services committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the oversight and government reform committee, expressed concern about reports of the use of “overly restrictive nondisclosure agreements and other employment arrangements that serve to deter whistleblowers,” which could threaten the effectiveness of the SEC’s Whistleblower Program, created under Dodd-Frank.
The success of the SEC’s whistleblower program, the lawmakers told White, “may be fleeting if corporate actions that chill the environment for whistleblowers are not promptly and adequately addressed.”
Since its launch in 2011, the lawmakers said, the SEC has received 6,000 whistleblower tips, complaints and referrals “from every state” as well as 55 countries. In just the last fiscal year, the lawmakers said, 139 enforcement judgments and orders have been issued.
The letter cited a June Washington Post article, “Workplace Secrecy Agreements Appear to Violate Federal Whistleblower Laws,” which described the proliferation of agreements that may limit employees’ rights to report misconduct.