How not to manage a whistleblower

Menendez complained about his employer’s accounting practices to the SEC.  The employer received a letter from the SEC asking for retention of certain documents.  The employer then emailed Menendez’s colleagues, “instructing them to start retaining certain documents because ‘the SEC has opened an inquiry into the allegations of Mr. Menendez.'”  Relations with his co-workers deteriorated and he ultimately resigned.  In a detailed opinion, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a $30,000 damages award to Menendez on his claim for retaliation: “The undesirable consequences, from a whistleblower’s perspective, of the whistleblower’s supervisor telling the whistleblower’s colleagues that imagehe reported them to authorities for what are allegedly fraudulent practices, thus resulting in an official investigation, are obvious.”  Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Dep’t of Labor, No. 13-60323 (Nov. 12, 2014).  The case has received considerable attention in employment and compliance circles; the Wall Street Journal‘s coverage is a short example.

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