On July 31, 2012, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation that would extend whistleblower protections to employees who report criminal antitrust violations to the Department of Justice.  The proposed Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (“CARA”) would provide a civil remedy for employees who are retaliated against for reporting violations such as price-fixing, market allocation, and bid rigging. 

The proposed legislation is modeled on existing whistleblower statutes, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.  It would allow an employee who believes that he has been retaliated against for reporting anti-trust concerns to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor.  A whistleblower prevailing under CARA could be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and special damages, including costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

There are some limits on the whistleblower protections that CARA would afford.  First, the term “anti-trust violations” is limited to Sections 1 or 3 of the Sherman Act or similar state laws.  Thus, reports of companies monopolizing or attempting to monopolize trade or commerce would not fall within the purview of the statute.  In addition, whistleblowers who planned and initiated an antitrust violation or attempted to obstruct a Department of Justice antitrust investigation would not be protected by the statute. 

If enacted, CARA would further expand employees’ right to be protected from retaliation for reporting certain conduct.