February 26, 2019

Federal court affirms bulk of whistleblower retaliation award on appeal

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part a whistleblower retaliation jury award to the former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., who reported possible FCPA violations to the audit committee of the company’s board of directors in February 2018.  At trial, the jury found that Bio-Rad  and in part, the company’s CEO, had violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Dodd-Frank Act, and California public policy by firing the general counsel in June 2013 in retaliation for raising his concerns.  On appeal, the court affirmed the portion of the $11 million award attributable to the California public policy violation (approximately $8 million), vacated the portion of the award attributable to the Dodd-Frank violation (approximately $2.96 million), and remanded the portion of the verdict attributable to the SOX violation on the grounds that the jury instructions were flawed.