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The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in March that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistleblower provision — and its attendant cause of action for retaliation — protects not only public-company employees, but also employees of law firms, auditing firms, investment advisers and other contractors of public companies. Lawson v. FMR LLC, No. 12-3 (March 4). However, the Lawson court did not decide two important issues: whether a household employee of a public-company officer or employee — for example, a nanny or gardener — can bring a Sarbanes-Oxley claim against that officer or employee; and whether a whistleblower can bring a Sarbanes-Oxley claim against a public company, a private contractor of a public company or a public-company employee, even if the whistleblower has not reported shareholder fraud. Until these questions are resolved, private and public employers alike could face a broad variety of Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower claims.

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