A federal jury awarded the former general counsel of BioRad Laboratories $8 million in back pay and damages — which will increase to $11 million — for whistleblower retaliation involving potential bribery in China, according to a Courthouse News article.
Sanford “Sandy” Wadler won $2.96 million for economic losses and $5 million in punitive damages. Because the Dodd-Frank Act allows double back pay damages for whistleblower retaliation, the back pay award will increase to $5.92 million, bringing the total to nearly $11 million, explains reporter Nicholas Iovino.
Wadler sued Hercules, California-based BioRad Laboratories and its CEO Norman Schwartz in May 2015. He alleged he was fired in June 2013 for reporting potential bribery in China, a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
This case implicates a number of key issues confronting companies and their in-house legal teams, including: (1) protections and scope of the attorney-client privilege; (2) what constitutes protected activity from an in-house attorney or compliance officer; (3) the importance of consistent and timely performance critiques; and (4) preparing adverse employment decisions to be scrutinized by a judge, jury, or arbitrator. The case also highlights the existing split among federal courts regarding what constitutes a “whistleblower” under the DFA.