Senate Once Again Passes Antitrust Whistleblower Bill

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By Eleanor Tyler

The Senate Nov. 15 passed the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act ( S. 807) to extend whistleblower protection to employees who provide information to the Justice Department related to criminal antitrust violations.

The House has yet to consider the measure, which has been sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for four congressional sessions without winning final passage. This is the third time the Senate has passed it unanimously.

The bill would allow employees who have reported an antitrust violation, and believe they are victims of retaliation based on that report, to complain to the Labor Department. If the agency finds that there was retaliation, the employee could recover back pay with interest, reinstatement, and compensation for special damages along with counsel fees and any litigation costs.

The law, modeled on the whistleblower protections in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on corporate accountability, doesn’t protect employees who “planned or initiated a violation or attempted violation of the antitrust laws.”

“Whistleblowers who shed light on violations of our antitrust laws not only help to fight crime; they also help protect consumers from less choice and higher prices in the marketplace,” Grassley said in a Nov. 17 statement about the bill.

“I will now work with Senator Grassley to advance this commonsense legislation in the House and finally get it to the president for signature,” Leahy added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eleanor Tyler in Washington at etyler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com

For More Information

Text of the bill as it passed the Senate is at http://src.bna.com/ukr.

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