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Supreme Court rules in favor of UBS employee

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Employment Law

A recent Supreme Court decision will likely have an impact on many employees in Tennessee and around the country who seek whistleblower protection. The court ruled that those who invoke protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act must prove that their activity as a whistleblower was the reason why they were terminated. However, they don’t need to prove that their employers acted in a retaliatory manner to obtain a favorable outcome.

An overview of the case

The plaintiff in the case in question was a man who worked for UBS Securities. He claimed that he was pressured into changing research reports to make them more favorable for the company’s mortgage-backed securities desk. According to the lawsuit, he was viewed favorably by his superior prior to filing a claim with the Department of Labor in 2012. However, after doing so, he claimed that he was terminated while UBS claimed that the plaintiff was let go as part of a layoff. A jury initially awarded the plaintiff $1 million before the decision was reversed by the Second Circuit.

The reasoning behind the lower court decisions

At trial, the jury found that UBS couldn’t prove that the plaintiff wouldn’t have been terminated but for acting as a whistleblower. The Second Circuit found that the plaintiff hadn’t proven that he was let go based on the complaint alone.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that UBS likely wouldn’t have been liable if it could show that the termination would have happened even if the complaint hadn’t been made. However, as a matter of employment law, employers generally do have the higher burden of proof in cases involving Sarbanes-Oxley protections.

If you believe that your employer is engaging in improper conduct, you generally have a right to report it. In the event that you’re treated differently after engaging in protected activities, you may be entitled to compensation or other forms of relief.