Whistleblower and Compliance

Overview

Our interdisciplinary approach offers our clients a unique “one stop” solution to the full spectrum of whistleblower and compliance issues. We advise on all areas of the employment relationship and have extensive experience conducting internal investigations regarding sensitive employment matters, establishing and reviewing compliance programs to prevent and detect issues. We litigate and when appropriate, work to resolve administrative claims and litigation, while minimizing the risk of regulatory penalties, retaliation claims, adverse publicity and reputational harm. Our Chambers-ranked Employment Group combined with our firmwide expertise in the financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, energy, hospitality, and white collar arenas, allows us to help steer our clients through this increasingly risky and high-profile area.

  • Compliance: Our Firm’s teams have developed “best practices” compliance programs for companies in highly regulated and competitive areas. We assist clients to reduce the risk of noncompliance with the various laws and regulations governing the workplace, encourage internal reporting and reduce the risks of potential liability and penalties.
  • Internal Investigations: Together with our White Collar and Corporate Investigations practice team and other subject matter experts, we have conducted sensitive investigations of allegations including alleged violations of employment laws, OSHA and industry specific safety claims, U.S. EPA violations, financial reporting requirements and FDA regulations, often resolving them without adverse publicity, reputational harm, litigation or charges. Our investigations are timely, targeted, confidential, thorough and designed to avoid interfering with business operations.
  • Defending substantive claims and retaliation claims: We have successfully defended more than hundreds of complaints investigated by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, from administrative charge through trial and appeal. Working with our litigation group, our experienced trial attorneys have tried cases in civil, criminal, administrative and other forums. Our Firm’s attorneys have a depth of experience with and against the OSHA, DOL, EEOC, DOJ, SEC, HHS, IRS, FTC, U.S. EPA, U.S. Attorneys’ Office, State Attorneys General and other federal and state regulatory agencies that has proven invaluable to our clients who deal with those agencies.
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Compliance

Our clients have the benefit of the full spectrum of our Firm’s experience. We advise U.S. companies on employment and regulatory compliance issues in heavily-regulated industries including manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, energy and financial services. We work with our attorneys with substantive expertise in these industries and others to craft programs designed to match the needs of the particular client and its industry.

  1. We have the industry expertise to assess risks related to employees: we identify client’s specific issues and provide solutions.
  2. We offer practical advice: realistic, clear, specific tasks that are tailored for our client’s size, sophistication and industry to address whistleblower issues and mitigate the risks of retaliation claims.
  3. We assist with training and implementation, including monitoring and auditing compliance metrics.
  4. We assess and update programs already in place.
  5. We advise companies facing particular risk areas such as expanding into new geographic or product markets, and merging or acquiring new business units or employee groups.
  6. Where appropriate, we identify and assist with implementation of remedial and corrective measures.
Internal Investigations

Employee reports that implicate reputational and regulatory risk require prompt action. We take a “SWAT Team” approach, sending in the best team possible to efficiently investigate and resolve the issue with the least interference with company operations. If we identify a substantive issue raised by a whistleblower, our Firm’s attorneys will help our clients resolve it.

  1. Our Chambers-ranked Employment Group works collaboratively with attorneys in other practice areas who have industry knowledge and subject matter experience in healthcare, transportation, pharmaceuticals, energy, hospitality, retail, data privacy, tax, securities and financial services. Together with the subject matter experts in our White Collar and Corporate Investigations practice as well as other teams, we have investigated whistleblower allegations running the gamut of corporate misconduct including fraud; theft; violations of antitrust, safety, environmental and employee protection laws; revenue recognition and other financial reporting misconduct; tax fraud; data breach; violations of anti-bribery and anti-kickback statutes; OFAC and other import/export controls; and healthcare fraud.
  2. Our investigations are targeted based on the scope of the issue, with the goal of prompt and effective resolution with minimal impact on business operations.
  3. Working with our subject matter experts, we assist with decision making based on the results of our investigation, including responding to the whistleblower, corrective or remedial action or external self-reporting.
Defending Substantive Claims and Retaliation Claims

We assist our clients to resolve the employee-related issues raised by a whistleblower complaint, including advising on employment decisions affecting the whistleblower and achieving successful resolution of retaliation claims.

  1. Among our regulatory experience is an extensive and excellent track record with OSHA’s Office of Whistleblower Compliance.
  2. We never lose sight of the employment issues surrounding a whistleblower complaint, including minimizing the risks of a retaliation claim.
  3. Although we work to avoid litigation wherever possible, we have a “deep bench” of trial lawyers across our offices, many of them former prosecutors.

Because of our national firm’s strengths across industries, from financial services to manufacturing, we can provide our clients a “one stop” solution regardless of the nature of the whistleblower report.

Select Experience

  • Won numerous cases against companies in whistleblower matters involving claims of retaliation for employees failing or refusing to operate allegedly defective equipment.
  • Represented a wide variety of clients before OSHA and its Whistleblower Protection Program, successfully defending many claims of retaliation based on employees reporting unsafe conditions, reporting injuries and refusing to violate federal regulations.
  • Assisted a global company to create and implement a corporate compliance plan, and provide training to employees.
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Professionals

Name Title Office Email
Associate Columbus
Partner New York
Associate Columbus
Partner Columbus
Partner Houston
Associate Columbus
Associate Columbus
Partner Cincinnati
Partner Columbus
Counsel Denver
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Orlando
Partner Chicago
Partner New York
Associate New York
Partner Cleveland

Experience

  • Won numerous cases against companies in whistleblower matters involving claims of retaliation for employees failing or refusing to operate allegedly defective equipment.
  • Represented a wide variety of clients before OSHA and its Whistleblower Protection Program, successfully defending many claims of retaliation based on employees reporting unsafe conditions, reporting injuries and refusing to violate federal regulations.
  • Assisted a global company to create and implement a corporate compliance plan, and provide training to employees.
  • Successfully defended a multinational pharmaceutical company against CEPA and other claims brought by a high level employee who claimed that he was terminated in retaliation for reporting off-label use of a controversial and highly publicized drug.
  • Represented a wide variety of clients before OSHA and its Whistleblower Protection Program, successfully defending many claims of retaliation based on employees reporting unsafe conditions, reporting injuries and refusing to violate federal regulations.
  • Conducted a sensitive internal investigation for a large beverage wholesaler involving misconduct by a long-time, senior employee resulting in millions of dollars of losses. The investigation required a time-sensitive response to debunk the employee's claims that misconduct was on behalf of the company, determine the extent of the theft and replace company leadership while protecting the company’s reputation and customer relationships. Working with an outside accounting firm, we conducted its investigation, presented its findings and obtained separation and repayment agreements from the relevant employees without disruption to the business.
  • Led an investigation into claimed financial misconduct by a corporate officer who allegedly had an improper sexual relationship with an employee with audit responsibilities for the company. By promptly conducting its investigation and presenting its findings, we enabled the company to address the issue quickly and decisively, without public disclosure, reputational harm to the company or significant impact on other employees.
  • Investigated claims by employees of global financial services company of gender and age discrimination within the legal department. Quickly reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of employees to present conclusions to Board, allowing for prompt resolution of matter without public disclosure or reputational harm to the company.
  • Defended numerous employees of a pharmaceutical company involved in False Claims Act qui tam action and related government investigation into alleged off-label marketing of pharmaceutical drug.
  • Handle numerous whistleblower and retaliation complaint investigations involving, among other issues, allegations of financial fraud related to the receipt of government funds.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Labor & Employment
    • Florida (2007 to 2018)
      • Band 2
    • Ohio (2007 to 2018)
      • Band 1
    • Texas (2014 to 2018)
      • Band 3
    • Recognized Practitioner in California (2017)
    • Recognized Practitioner in the District of Columbia (2017)
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, we were named to the 2018 BTI Client Service 30 for the fourth consecutive year.
  • “Best Law Firms” 2014: National Tier 1 Ranking in the area of Employment Law - Management from U.S. News – Best Lawyers®.
  • The Best Lawyers in America© 2014: Twenty-two partners were selected by their peers for inclusion in various employment-related fields.
  • Corporate Counsel® and The American Lawyer magazines "Go-to Law Firm” for Labor & Employment by general counsel (2013)
  • Workforce Management Magazine: Top Employment Law Firms
  • The Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive list of the Nation's Top Employment Attorneys includes three members of the team in their Top 100 list, with one additional attorney named among the nation's top 20 labor lawyers.
  • Florida Trend “Legal Elite"
  • Numerous partners have been certified as employment law specialists by their respective state bar associations.

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In The Blogs

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Employment Law Spotlight
State Court Asked to ‘Weigh In' on Whether Obesity Constitutes an Impairment Under Anti-Discrimination Law
October 16, 2018
On Sept. 17, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified to the Washington Supreme Court the question of whether obesity qualifies as an “impairment” and thus a “disability” under the state’s anti-discrimination law. The case...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Employers Speak Out on Proposed Changes to FLSA Overtime Rule
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Employment Law Spotlight
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October 2, 2018
UPDATE – On Oct. 1, 2018, the state of New York released final guidance on the anti-sexual harassment measures that were passed in the 2018-2019 New York state budget. Perhaps the most important (and welcomed) change in the guidance is...
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