U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to extend whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal antitrust violations.
The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, which the Senators also introduced last Congress, seeks to protect whistleblowers in criminal antitrust cases. It would prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who provides information to the Department of Justice regarding conduct that violates the criminal antitrust laws, and is based on recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report released July 2011. The bill allows an employee who believes they are the victim of retaliation to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, and provides for that employee to be reinstated to their former status if the Secretary finds in their favor. Senators Leahy and Grassley authored similar whistleblower statutes as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, and the antitrust measure introduced today is modeled in part after those existing protections.
"Congress should encourage employees with information about criminal antitrust activity, such as price fixing, to report that information by offering meaningful protection to those who blow the whistle rather than leaving them vulnerable to reprisals," Leahy said in a statement, adding that "When the antitrust laws are enforced and competition is preserved, consumers win through greater choices and lower prices. Our bipartisan bill will help to ensure that criminal violations of these laws do not go unreported."
"Too often whistleblowers who expose waste, fraud and abuse are treated like second class citizens. This legislation provides protection from retaliation for private sector employees who are willing to come forward with information about criminal antitrust violations," Grassley said. "It's a natural extension to similar legislation Senator Leahy and I got included in the Sarbanes-Oxley reform, and it can be a real deterrent to those who are thinking about committing fraud in the future."