On June 17, 2015, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2015 (Act), a bill that proposes whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal violations of antitrust laws.
The proposed legislation will protect employees, contractors, subcontractors and agents of employers who provide information to the employer or the Federal government relating to violations of antitrust laws or crimes committed in conjunction with potential violations of antitrust laws. If passed, the Act will provide protection to employees who “reasonably believe” that a violation of law has occurred or participate in investigations or proceedings relating to antitrust laws. The bill will not protect individuals who planned or initiated the violation.
Covered employees could file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and, if no decision is reached by the DOL within 180 days, may bring an action in Federal court. Remedies available under the proposed law include reinstatement, back pay, litigation costs and attorney’s fees.
This is marks the third attempt at providing this type of whistleblower protection; identical bills were introduced in the Senate in 2012 and 2013. However, given the federal government’s growing interest in expanding whistleblower protections over the last few years, the new legislation may fare better than it did in the past.
Considered in broader context, this bill is consistent with recent efforts with respect to multiple industries, such as the auto and banking, insurance and financial services industries, to capitalize on the perceived value of whistleblowing.