Lawson v. FMR LLC

Chamber urges high court to reject expansion of SOX whistleblower provisions (U.S. Supreme Court)

Term: 2013 Term
Oral Argument Date: Nov 12, 2013
Vote: 6-3
Opinion: Ginsburg
Questions Presented: 

Whether an employee of a privately held contractor or subcontractor of a public company is protected from retaliation by Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1514A.

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an expansion of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ("SOX") that would extend SOX's whistleblower provisions to employees of small, privately-owned businesses that contract with public companies. In enacting SOX, Congress "determined that SOX’s investor-protection goals are best achieved through targeted measures that do not unduly burden small businesses." To that end, SOX focuses its requirements on public companies and entities that provide specified investor-related services to public companies. Congress carefully drafted SOX's provisions to "spar[e] small businesses from the expense of defending against such [whistleblower] claims." As the Chamber argued in its amicus brief, "extending SOX to reach [employees of small, privately-owned businesses] would not advance SOX’s investor-protection goals and would be directly contrary to Congress’s objective of protecting small businesses from the costs and burdens of SOX coverage." The Chamber also argued that a contrary interpretation of SOX put forward by the Department of Labor is not entitled to any deference.

Outcome Content: 

The judgement was reversed and the case remanded.

Procedural History: 

Cert. Petition filed 6/28/13. CVSG'd 10/9/13. Cert. Granted 5/20/13. Petitioner's Brief filed 7/31/13. Brief of US filed 8/7/13. Respondent's Brief on Merits filed 9/30/13. U.S. Chamber Amicus Brief filed 10/7/13. Decided 3/4/2014.