At the annual “The SEC Speaks” conference held late last month, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) discussed achievements in 2012 and looked ahead to 2013. Among the speakers was Jane Norberg, the Deputy Director for the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. In her remarks, summarized by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Norberg mentioned that while only one SEC whistleblower had been given an award thus far, more awards were on the way. Ms. Norberg further noted that SEC intended to prioritize responding to whistleblowers promptly, noting that the agency’s goal for 2013 was to respond to all tips within 24 hours.
On a more substantive level, Ms. Norberg stressed two key points: 1) the importance of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank”), which provide whistleblowers with safeguards against retaliation from their employers for providing information about possible fraud to the SEC; and 2) the position of the SEC that employers do not have the right to require employers to waive those rights granted to them under the Dodd-Frank Act, or otherwise interfere with the employees ability to report fraud and other misconduct to the SEC.