In a decision that is making waves in boardrooms all over the country, a U.S. District Court judge granted the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a former General Electric Co. executive, who served as a representative for GE Energy in Iraq, under the Dodd-Frank Act.
As C.W. Matthews of the Wall Street Journal reports, the court held that the anti-retaliation clauses of the Act’s whistleblower provisions do not apply to cover foreign claims.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff asserted a claim for whistleblower retaliation under the Act which created a private cause of action for whistleblowers subject to retaliatory discharge
In its defense, GE argued that the plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed because Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision doesn’t apply to conduct in foreign countries, among other things.
In the 25-page Order, Judge Nancy Atlas sided with GE and dismissed the lawsuit. In making the ruling, Judge Atlas relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, Ltd..
In that decision, the Court held that investors could not bring claims in U.S. courts involving securities bought in foreign countries. Although Morrison focused on securities law, lower courts have applied the decision in other types of cases.
Judge Atlas found that the language of the Dodd-Frank Anti-Retaliation Provision is silent about its extraterritorial applicability and held that there is a “presumption that the Provision does not govern conduct outside the United States.”
As such, Judge Atlas declined to extend the reach of the law to the plaintiff’s foreign whistle-blower claims.
The ruling marks one of the first times a court has held the law does not apply to whistle-blowing that takes place overseas.
Read more on the story at Reuters.