A recent Bloomberg article reports that whistleblower complaints to the SEC have soared as employees have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the article, the SEC received 6,900 complaints in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2020 – a 31% jump from the previous 12-month record.

The article discusses how the isolation associated with working remotely has emboldened employees to speak out.  The article quotes a former SEC official as stating: “It’s never been easier to record a meeting when you can do it from your dining room table.”  The article also quotes a psychologist and professor who has studied the motivations of whistleblowers as stating: “[w]hen you feel disconnected from work, you feel more comfortable speaking up.”

According to the article, because of the lag in time between complaints and SEC investigations, the impact of the recent explosion in whistleblower tips will be felt long after employees return to the office.

Notably, the Bloomberg article comes on the heels of our prediction last year that employers are likely to face a deluge of whistleblower claims under various laws and legal theories in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result, employers should consider strengthening compliance policies and opening up additional channels for internal reporting of employee concerns.

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Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Pinchos Goldberg Pinchos Goldberg

Pinny Goldberg is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department. Pinny represents employers in a broad array of matters before federal and state courts, FINRA and other arbitration panels, and administrative agencies, including the EEOC and its state equivalents, and in…

Pinny Goldberg is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department. Pinny represents employers in a broad array of matters before federal and state courts, FINRA and other arbitration panels, and administrative agencies, including the EEOC and its state equivalents, and in pre-litigation negotiations. Matters he works on include discrimination and harassment, wage and hour, wrongful discharge, whistleblowing and retaliation, covenants not to compete, breaches of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and tort and contract claims.

In addition to handling litigation and dispute resolution, Pinny regularly advises clients on a wide variety of employment issues, including drafting, reviewing and revising handbooks and workplace policies. He also addresses questions and concerns related to hiring, wage and hour issues, employee leave, performance problems, terminations of employment, and separation agreements and releases.