Circuit Court Adopts Narrow Interpretation of Anti-Retaliation Provision of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Rules

19 July 2013
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  • On July 17, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a groundbreaking and pro-defense ruling on the scope and applicability of the whistleblower protection rules enacted by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank”). In Asadi v. G.E. Energy (USA), LLC, No. 12-20522, 2013 WL 3742492 (5th Cir. July 17, 2013), the Fifth Circuit held that the “plain language” of Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower-protection provision applies only to individuals who report information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the SEC.
  • Notably, the Fifth Circuit affirmatively rejected the SEC’s final rule interpreting Dodd–Frank’s whistleblower-protection provision, noting that the agency’s “expansive interpretation” of the term “whistleblower” was not supported by the plain language of the statute.
  • In narrowly construing Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision, the Fifth Circuit took a firm and decidedly pro-employer stance on a statutory interpretation question that has vexed both courts and litigants since passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how other courts will view the Asadi decision and whether they will follow the court’s analysis of the statutory construction issues.