Since 2015, the SEC has brought nearly two dozen enforcement actions for violations of the whistleblower protection rules under Rule 21F-17(a) against employers for actions taken to impede reporting to the SEC. The bulk of these actions have focused on language in employee-facing agreements that allegedly discouraged such reporting. The
Steven J. Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group and the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.
Steven’s practice covers the full spectrum of employment law, with a particular focus on defending companies against claims of employment discrimination, retaliation and harassment; whistleblower retaliation; restrictive covenant violations; theft of trade secrets; and wage-and-hour violations. He has successfully tried cases in multiple jurisdictions, and defended one of the largest Illinois-only class actions in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He also secured one of only a few ex parte seizures orders that have been issued under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and obtained a world-wide injunction in federal litigation against a high-level executive who jumped ship to a competitor.
Reporting to boards of directors, their audit committees, CEOs and in-house counsel, Steven conducts sensitive investigations and has testified in federal court. His investigations have involved complaints of sexual harassment involving C-suite officers; systemic violations of employment laws and company policies; and fraud, compliance failures and unethical conduct.
Steven was recognized as Lawyer of the Year for Chicago Labor & Employment Litigation in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Chambers describes Steven as an “outstanding lawyer” who is “very sharp and very responsive,” a “strong advocate,” and an "expert in his field." Steven was 1 of 12 individuals selected by Compliance Week as a "Top Mind." Earlier in his career, he was 1 of 5 U.S. lawyers selected by Law360 as a "Rising Star Under 40" in the area of employment law and 1 of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" selected by Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Steven is a Burton Award Winner (U.S. Library of Congress) for "Distinguished Legal Writing."
Steven has served on Law360’s Employment Editorial Advisory Board and is a Contributor to Forbes.com. He has appeared on Bloomberg News (television and radio) and Yahoo! Finance, and is regularly quoted in leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has engaged Steven to serve as lead counsel on amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit courts of appeal. He was appointed to serve as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois in employment litigation matters. He has presented with the Solicitor of the DOL, the Acting Chair of the EEOC, an EEOC Commissioner, Legal Counsel to the EEOC and heads of the SEC, CFTC and OSHA whistleblower programs. He is also a member of the Sedona Conference, focusing on trade secret matters.
Since 2015, the SEC has brought nearly two dozen enforcement actions for violations of the whistleblower protection rules under Rule 21F-17(a) against employers for actions taken to impede reporting to the SEC. The bulk of these actions have focused on language in employee-facing agreements that allegedly discouraged such reporting.The SEC…
As we reported here, on May 5, 2023, the SEC issued an award of $279 million to a whistleblower. This is the largest award the SEC has issued to an individual whistleblower in the history of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower’s program.
A jury verdict awarding more than $3 million to Plaintiff James Crowley (Plaintiff) on his whistleblower retaliation claim under the Illinois State Official and Employee Ethics Act (Ethics Act) (5 ILCS § 430/15-5, et seq.) Crowley v. Watson, No. 1-14-2847 (Mar. 2, 2016) was upheld by an Illinois Appellate court on March 2, 2016. To read our previous reports on the progression of the case, please click here and here.
The introduction of the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation Act of 2016 aims to strengthen whistleblower protections under both SOX and Dodd-Frank, increase bounty awards available, and create whistleblower protections for a new category of employees. To read more, click here
In 2015, we saw high-profile whistleblower litigation around the country under a variety of statutes (such as SOX and Dodd-Frank) that yielded decisions expanding the scope of protected activity and even limiting defenses to causation. We also saw significant activity from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the…
On September 28, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) held that the recording of workplace conversations can be protected whistleblower activity under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (“ERA”). Franchini v. Argonne National Laboratory, ARB Case No. 13-081 (Sep. 28, 2015).