The United States Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) administrative review board (the “Board”) has dismissed two Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower complaints against Sprint Nextel Corp. brought by a former in-house lawyer. In the Matter of: Jordan v. Sprint Nextel Corp., Nos. 10-113, 11-020 (Dep’t of Labor ARB Aug. 6, 2012). The Board held that the attorney can pursue the allegations when he brings a related complaint in federal court. The attorney worked in Sprint’s Kansas-based corporate governance group from January 2003 to April 2005, where he provided legal advice to ensure compliance with securities laws and regulations and helped administer the telecom’s own ethics policies. The attorney filed his initial complaint with the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) in April 2005, claiming Sprint retaliated against him in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by threatening to fire him and denying him a raise and a promotion after he opposed the supervisor’s efforts to give a “senior officer” a waiver to the company’s ethics policies. In March 2006, the attorney filed a second OSHA complaint, claiming Sprint violated whistleblower protections by making false allegations about him in its response to his initial complaint. In January 2010, the attorney filed a third OSHA complaint, claiming Sprint and others made false statements related to the first two complaints in a letter to the SEC. An administrative law judge dismissed the attorney’s second and third OSHA complaints in 2010. His initial OSHA complaint was dismissed in May 2011, after the attorney provided notice of his intent to proceed with his claims in federal court. The attorney appealed the dismissal of his second and third OSHA complaints, arguing that he should not be compelled to pursue those complaints in court. The Board rejected that argument, noting that the three complaints derived from the same or overlapping facts, and that it was the attorney’s own decision to remove the principal, original complaint to federal court.
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Department of Labor dismisses SOX claims brought by ex-Sprint attorney
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