Federal Whistleblower Suit Rejected

A former examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has claimed she was fired as a result of her complaints about practices at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. However, a federal district court in New York has dismissed the claim, stating the conduct alleged by the former examiner does not violate the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

According to the former employee, she was hired as a senior examiner in October 2011 and was immediately put to work examining Goldman Sachs’s conflicts of interest program. During her employment, she soon discovered that Goldman Sachs did not have a firm-wide conflict of interest program that met the requirements of the Federal Reserve Board’s Supervision and Regulation Letter 08-08. SR 08-08 applies generally to risk management procedures for all large banking organizations with complex risk profiles, sets minimum standards for detecting and addressing a number of types of risk, and explicitly includes conflicts of interest risks.

The examiner claimed that over the following months, she continued to seek information on Goldman Sachs’s conflict of interest policy and received contradictory answers from the company; however, the company did at one point admit that it had no firm-wide policy. The examiner claims that soon after the admission, three senior individuals began to obstruct her efforts and attempted to compel her to change her findings. She refused to do so, she said, and three days later, only seven months after being hired, the examiner was fired.

According to the former examiner’s complaint, her supervisors were worried that a public revelation that Goldman Sachs had no firm-wide risk management policy would be very damaging to the company and they fired her in retaliation for her refusal to suppress the fact.

However, the judge in case stated that the whistleblower protections applied when a protected employee makes information available to one of the described third parties, not when the employee is pressured to change information. This meant the former examiner had no claim for having been fired for refusing to change her findings, the judge said. Her claim could only be based on having been fired for providing information on Goldman Sachs’s failure to satisfy a law or regulation.

Although this case involved a federal case, retaliatory firing occurs in all facets of employment statewide. In New York state, an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for making a complaint, instituting a proceeding, or testifying at a proceeding concerning a violation of New York’s labor laws. If you or a loved one have been a victim of wrongful termination, contact an experienced employment attorney today. A skilled attorney can afford you the representation you deserve and ensure your legal rights are protected.

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