Supreme Court Extends SOX Whistleblower Protection to Contractor Employees

On March 4, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawson v. FMR LLC, No. 12-3 (Mar. 4, 2014). The decision came in an unusual 6-3 split for the court, with Justice Ginsberg’s majority opinion joined by Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Chief Justice Roberts, with Justices Scalia and Thomas concurring in principal part and concurring in the judgment, and Justice Sotomayor, along with Justices Kennedy and Alito, dissenting. The court ruled that Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which bans retaliation against whistleblowers, applies not only to employees of public companies but also to employees of contractors and subcontractors who carry out work for public companies, significantly expanding the coverage of SOX.

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