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Update: On November 4, 2013, the Senate passed this bill by unanimous consent.
On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2013 (S. 42), a bill that would extend whistleblower protections to employees who report potential violations of antitrust and related criminal conduct. Notably, the measure does not provide an economic incentive akin to the Dodd-Frank bounty program for blowing the whistle on potential criminal law violations. The sum and substance of the bill would prevent retaliation against employees who do come forward, and provide them with judicial redress and possible compensatory damages in the event they are unfairly discriminated against.
Specifically, the bill would amend the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 (ACPERA) to prevent any person, officer, employee, contractor, subcontractor, or agent from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or otherwise discriminating against individuals for disclosing information relating to:
any violation of, or any act or omission the whistleblower reasonably believes to be a violation of the antitrust laws; or
any violation of, or any act or omission the whistleblower reasonably believes to be a violation of another criminal law committed in conjunction with a potential violation of the antitrust laws or in conjunction with an investigation by the Department of Justice of a potential violation of the antitrust laws.
A whistleblower would also be protected if he or she “filed, caused to be filed, testified, participated in, or otherwise assisted an investigation or a proceeding” related to a violation, act or omission the whistleblower “reasonably believes” violates antitrust laws or other criminal laws in connection with a potential antitrust law violation.
The bill would provide the aggrieved whistleblower with the ability to file a complaint with the Department of Labor. If the DOL fails to issue a final decision within 180 days of the filing of the complaint, and the delay is not the fault of the whistleblower, the individual would be permitted to file an action in federal court.
The bill’s next step is the Senate floor for consideration.