Non-Disclosure Agreements – Corporate Pressure to Keep Quiet
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto led the effort to ban restrictive non-disclosure agreements
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned defense contractor KBR in April 2015 for requiring its employees to sign restrictive non-disclosure agreements that prohibited employees from reporting fraud and misconduct to appropriate regulatory authorities. This was the first penalty against any company for attempting to silence a whistleblower. A copy of the SEC release on this matter, and the SEC’s enforcement action are linked.
The SEC investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by whistleblower attorneys at Kohn Kohn & Colapinto on behalf of a former KBR employee, Mr. Harry Barko. Read a copy of the KKC’s February 19, 2014 complaint. KBR was forced to pay a $130,000 penalty and agreed to cease this practice. The KBR enforcement action was widely applauded and served as the springboard for the series of related enforcement actions that followed.
Well before KKC’s efforts to get the SEC to police the use of restrictive non-disclosure settlement agreements, KKC successfully led the efforts to outlaw a similar practice that was occurring in the nuclear industry. In the late 1980’s nuclear whistleblowers were silenced with restrictive agreements that forbid the raising of safety concerns to government regulators, which was the norm of the industry in those days. KKC’s work in this area resulted in a nationwide ban on restrictive settlements in all federal nuclear and environmental cases, requiring government approval to ensure the right of employees to blow the whistle on safety and environmental issues was not compromised during the settlement process.
Why choose Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto?
Experienced whistleblower attorneys – At Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto earned the reputation as the premier whistleblower attorneys by winning for whistleblowers for over 30 years.
Leading role in shaping the federal laws that protect and reward whistleblowers. Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto’s dedication to assisting whistleblowers led us to take a leading role in shaping the federal laws that protect and reward whistleblowers. The partners at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto work pro bono with Congress to include strong whistleblower protections in reform legislation including the Dodd-Frank Act, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the federal stimulus laws, and the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act. Our attorneys often testify in Congress to defend whistleblowers rights and advocate for effective legislation.
We wrote the book on whistleblower law – The partners at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP wrote the leading books on whistleblower law and pioneered the practice area of whistleblower law. Beginning in 1985 with the first legal treatise on whistleblower law, and continuing through 2017, KKC partners have published eight groundbreaking books covering the full range of whistleblower law.
The New Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself details these protections in “RULE 28: Hold Companies Accountable for Paying Hush Money.”
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If you signed a restrictive non-disclosure agreement and would like to know how Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto can help you, please contact us by completing our Consultation Request Form.