The First Circuit recently upheld a grant of summary judgment by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiff had brought a claim against his employer for a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistleblower protection provision 18 U.S.C. 1514A. The plaintiff alleged that he was fired for complaining of conduct that he believed consisted of both securities fraud and shareholder fraud. The employer countered that the actions the plaintiff complained about did not constitute fraud or securities law violations and that the plaintiff was fired for poor work performance and an inability to cooperate with his coworkers. In a case of first impression in the First Circuit, the Court of Appeals held that in order to successfully claim a violation of the whistleblower protection provision, the employee bears the initial burden to establish that he had a “reasonable belief” that the action of which he complained was a violation of the pertinent laws listed in the Act. Agreeing with the test set forth in the Fourth Circuit, the court held that the “reasonable belief” had to be both subjectively reasonable as well as objectively reasonable. When the court applied this test to the instant case, it found that the plaintiff brought his complaints in subjective good faith. However, the court held that there was no objectively reasonable basis to believe that the conduct of which he complained constituted securities fraud or shareholder fraud, as alleged by the plaintiff. Without an objectively reasonable belief that the conduct constituted either securities fraud or shareholder fraud, the court determined that the whistleblower protection provision did not shield the plaintiff from termination. Therefore, the court affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants. (Day v. Staples, Inc., 2009 WL 294804 (1st Cir. February 9, 2009))