The U.S. has a long history of harboring “big business” that capitalizes on the exploitation of its employees. Sometimes, this advantage comes in the form of saving money by cutting corners on safety and sometimes low pay for long, grueling hours. These days, U.S. “big business” often refers to financial institutions and the principal means of exploitation, if there is any, is obviously, financial. This could be in the form of illegally imposed interest rates, excessive or hidden fees, stock manipulation, insider trading and the list goes on. One simplistic way of understanding the difficulty of regulating business practices like these is to recognize that one is either on the side of the winning team or not. Either you work for one of the offending institutions or you are just an average Joe who puts his or her hard earned money in the bank or stock market with a reasonable expectation that a fairly high level of responsibility will be applied to the care or growth of said money. So, in many cases, unsuspecting Joe would be relying on accountability from the other side of the isle which, one might assume, could present a serious problem for Joe’s counterpart who has to decide between blowing the whistle when necessary or losing his or her employment.
In 2010, Congress took a huge step towards alleviating this problem of moral juxtaposition on the part of employees within these violating companies by enacting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which includes reform that not only shields whistleblowers from the scorn of their employers, but also provides substantial financial incentives to the tune of $100K to $300K in cases where SEC sanctions exceed $1 million, or more specifically, 10-30%. It is important to note that while the goal of this program is to uncover violations, previously, individuals who suspected the presence of violations may not have come forward simply because they feared reprisal for false allegations. This new law protects these potential whistleblowers as well by making it possible for employees to report violations anonymously via legal representation by a lawyer. In fact, there now exists a law firm, Labaton Sucharow , that works only cases on behalf of whistlesblowers and perhaps not surprisingly, the head of this law firm, Jordan A. Thomas, also worked for the SEC and contributed to the creation and implementation of the new program.