11.05.13

Senate Unanimously Passes Leahy-Grassley Bill To Protect Whistleblowers In Criminal Antitrust Cases

WASHINGTON –  The Senate on Monday night unanimously passed legislation to extend whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal antitrust violations. U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and coauthors of the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, applauded the Senate’s quick action on the bipartisan measure.

Approval of the bill comes just days after the Judiciary Committee unanimously reported it to the full Senate. Leahy and Grassley joined together last year to introduce the bill, and reintroduced the measure in January.  

“I applaud the Senate for quickly passing bipartisan legislation that will improve the enforcement of the antitrust laws to protect consumers,” Leahy said in a statement. “The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act makes whole employees who have been fired or discriminated against for blowing the whistle on criminal conduct. I urge the House to act quickly to pass this important bill.”

“Current law encourages self-reporting of criminal antitrust activity, yet it doesn’t provide any protections for innocent third-parties who blow the whistle on such activity.  Our bill strengthens the enforcement of criminal antitrust laws by adding a civil remedy for antitrust whistleblowers who are retaliated against,” Grassley said.  “I appreciate the Senate’s quick action on this bipartisan bill.”

The bill is based on recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report released July 2011. It allows employees who believe they are victims of retaliation to file complaints with the Secretary of Labor, and provides for those employees to be reinstated to their former status if the Secretary finds in their favor. Leahy and Grassley authored similar whistleblower statutes as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. A copy of the measure approved by the Senate on Monday can be found online.

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On Passage of The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act
November 5, 2013

I am pleased that the Senate passed yesterday bipartisan legislation that will improve the enforcement of the antitrust laws.  The bipartisan Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act extends whistleblower protections to employees who report criminal violations of the antitrust laws.  These kinds of violations, which include price fixing, have a particularly pernicious impact on consumers.

This legislation represents a continuation of my partnership with Senator Grassley on whistleblower issues.  Senator Grassley has long been an advocate for protecting those who blow the whistle on wasteful or criminal conduct.  Our bill is modeled on whistleblower protections that he and I authored as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act does not provide employees with an economic incentive to report violations.  The legislation simply makes whole employees who have been fired or discriminated against for blowing the whistle on criminal conduct.

Whistleblower protection was recommended by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2011 report to Congress.  The GAO surveyed an array of stakeholders and found widespread support for the kind of basic protections contained in this legislation.  The bill allows employees who have reported a criminal violation to file an action with the Department of Labor if they have been fired or otherwise discriminated against for disclosing the violation.  While the remedies provided by the bill are limited, they are crucial in protecting employees from retaliation.

The antitrust laws exist to promote a free and open marketplace and serve to protect consumers.  These laws can only be effective if they are vigorously enforced.  The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act will aid in enforcement efforts and ensure that consumers are protected from harmful activity.  I urge the House to act quickly to pass this important bill.

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