WASHINGTON (Tuesday, July 31, 2012) –U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation today to extend whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal antitrust violations.
Leahy and Grassley have long worked together on legislative priorities that protect whistleblowers. The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act is based on recommendations in a July 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office that found widespread support for anti-retaliatory protection in criminal antitrust cases. It allows an employee who believes that retaliation has occurred to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor and provides for the employee to be reinstated to his former status if the Secretary finds in his favor. These protections are modeled on existing whistleblower statutes, including the protections Senators Leahy and Grassley authored as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002.
“Whistleblowers are instrumental in alerting the public, Congress, and law enforcement to wrongdoing,” said Leahy. “Congress must encourage employees with reasonable beliefs about criminal activity to report it by offering meaningful protection to those who blow the whistle rather than leaving them vulnerable to reprisals.”
Grassley said “Chairman Leahy and I worked together ten years ago to establish whistleblower protections for private sector employees as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley reform effort. We updated those provisions three years ago, and today’s initiative is a further extension of our efforts. The legislation recognizes the value of whistleblowers that are willing to come forward with information about criminal antitrust violations in the private sector. Their courage will help make certain antitrust laws are enforced, and they deserve protection and recognition for their actions.”
A copy of the legislation can be found online.
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On Introduction of The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act
July 31, 2012
I am pleased to join with Senator Grassley and today introduce the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act. This legislation will provide important protections to employees who come forward and disclose to law enforcement price fixing and other criminal antitrust behavior that harm consumers. Senator Grassley and I have a long history of working together on whistleblower issues, and I am glad we can continue this partnership today.
Whistleblowers are instrumental in alerting the public, Congress, and law enforcement to wrongdoing. In many cases, their willingness to step forward has resulted in important reforms and even saved lives. Congress must encourage employees with reasonable beliefs about criminal activity to report such fraud or abuse by offering meaningful protection to those who blow the whistle rather than leaving them vulnerable to reprisals.
The legislation we introduce today was inspired by a recent report and recommendation from the Government Accountability Office which, based on interviews with key stakeholders, found widespread support for anti-retaliatory protection in criminal antitrust cases. It is modeled on the successful anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, and is carefully drafted to ensure that whistleblowers have no economic incentive to bring forth false claims.
I have long supported vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws, which have been called the “Magna Carta of free enterprise.” Today’s legislation is a necessary complement to them. It has bipartisan support and was recommended by the Government Accountability Office. I urge the Senate to quickly take up and pass this important legislation. I ask unanimous consent that the full bill text be inserted in the Record.
# # # # #