The U.S. Supreme Court issued an important new whistleblower decision in Lawson v. FMR LLC. In the case, two individuals alleged that they were fired after reporting fraudulent practices by a company that advises mutual funds. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, enacted in the wake of the Enron scandal, employees of public companies may not be fired for blowing the whistle on unethical practices in their companies. In Lawson, the company argued that the whistleblowers weren’t protected by Sarbanes-Oxley because they were not employees of public companies, but rather were private contractors hired by the public companies.
In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court rejected this legalistic argument and affirmed that all people who blow the whistle on unethical practices in public companies must be protected, even if they are only private contractors. The Court explained how important this is, both to ward off another Enron debacle, and to make sure that the mutual fund industry–which so many of us invest in–is handling our money ethically and wisely.