In Lockheed Martin Corp. v. U.S. Department of Labor, No. 11-9524 (10th Cir. June 4, 2013), the Tenth Circuit joined other circuits in finding that the whistleblower protection under Section 806 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (the "SOX") extends beyond securities fraud or fraud against shareholders. Plaintiff brought an OSHA complaint, alleging violations of SOX based on her reporting of a colleague’s alleged mail or wire fraud. An ALJ found that plaintiff had engaged in protected activity and awarded reinstatement, back pay, medical expenses, and non-compensatory damages of $75,000.
Lockheed appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit. Before the Tenth Circuit, Lockheed argued, among other things, that plaintiff's complaint of alleged mail or wire fraud was not protected activity under SOX, which bars retaliation for reporting violations of "[18 U.S.C. §§] 1341 [mail fraud], 1343 [wire fraud], 1344 [bank fraud], or 1348 [securities fraud], any rule or regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders." 18 U.S.C. § 1514A. Lockheed argued that the statute only protects activity "relating to fraud against shareholders." The Tenth Circuit rejected the argument, holding that the language "relating to fraud against shareholders" modifies only "any provision of Federal law," and not the specifically enumerated sections of the code.