In addressing what he termed as a ‘novel question’ U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetkent in Manhattan held on Monday that the Dodd-Frank reforms of Sarbanes-Oxley Act should apply retroactively to cases predating Dodd-Frank. The judge held that such retroactive application was “a clarification of Congress’s intent” concerning whistleblowers. The Dodd-Frank amendments of 2010 included a series of reforms to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act meant to protect employees of subsidiaries of big companies from reprisals by their employers.
The instant case involved that of one Phillip Leshinsky who had previously worked for the non-public Caseta unit of Telvent GIT, a Spanish technology company. Leshinsky had sued over his July 2008 termination which he holds to be wrongful. At the time Telvent employed about 6,100 people and had over 30 units. Last year, the company was bought by a French company Schneider Electric SA.
Leshinsky claims that his job was terminated in retaliation to his objections to the use of fraudulent information in connection with Caseta’s bid for a Metropolitan Transportation Authority contract in the New York City. Telvent has denied the fact that Leshinsky was fired for being a whistleblower and refuted the existence of the alleged scheme to defraud the MTA according to court papers.
However, the court found that in allowing the Dodd-Frank reforms, the Congress had stated that its intentions included the protection of whistleblowers who tried to thwart financial fraud within “large, complexly structured” companies. The judge mentioned in his decision, “In light of the fact that corporate malfeasance can — and often does — occur within subsidiaries of a public company, and that such malfeasance was precisely what precipitated the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley, it is certainly reasonable to infer that, in enacting whistleblower protections, Congress intended to protect the employees of a corporation’s subsidiaries in addition to employees of the parent itself.”