A law that was designed to protect whistleblowers who reveal corporate fraud has produced robust victories for employers, which have plaintiffs lawyers and employee-rights advocates reeling.

Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 — which offers corporate whistleblowers protection from retaliation — about 1,000 claims have been filed, but only 17 have been found to have merit, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.