Of those who provide tips to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblowing program, an estimated 20% are anonymous when they submit their information. And the SEC is required to keep whistleblowers’ information confidential. But what if you submitted the information anonymously, and your identity became known?
The main thing to be aware of is that you’re protected from employer retaliation relating to your whistleblowing. The SEC acts strongly against employer retaliation—and it includes a broad range of bad acts to constitute retaliation.
If retaliation does occur, you can sue for double-back pay and damages, and that money would be in addition to any award you receive for reporting the violation. And perhaps ironically, a retaliation claim is easier to prove if your identity is known. If you’ve technically remained anonymous, any employer can simply assert then it would be impossible for the firm to have retaliated against you for an act they didn’t know you had done.
Also, once your identity is known, the company cannot try to dissuade you or interfere in any way with your communications to and from the SEC. If they do, they are subject to more sanctions.
Relatedly, if the company actively tried to identify you as the whistleblower, the SEC may sanction the company for that, too.
Another factor to keep in mind: Your public identity might encourage others to come forward with supporting evidence. That could help your case and lead to a larger award.
Of course, if you wanted to be anonymous, that all may seem like cold comfort.
That’s why you should hire experienced securities attorneys to represent you as soon as possible. The attorneys at Silver Law Group and the Law Firm of David R. Chase have many years of experience in whistleblowing matters, and they can work with you to come up with ways to present your information that may better preserve your anonymity.