Blowing the whistle on Wall Street
The SEC’s whistleblower program aims to protect workers who report wrongdoing by their companies, but it hasn’t stopped retaliation.
November 15th, 2012
10:40 AM ET

Blowing the whistle on Wall Street

By Libby Lewis, CNN

(CNN) - In its fledgling whistleblower program, created as part of the Wall Street reform law, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports it’s getting about eight tips a day from do-gooders in the financial industry who want to stop the next Bernie Madoff scandal – and get paid for it.

But here’s a twist: a survey of 4,800 employees by the Ethics Resource Center actually found MORE employees reported serious retaliation for reporting wrongdoing than they found two years ago.

[1:08] "They were demoted. Transferred. Almost lost their jobs."

Pat Harned heads the Ethics Resource Center, a nonprofit group that promotes ethics in business. Harned said the survey collected reports of retaliation from employees across the business spectrum.

She says employees reported acts of retaliation including: “physical harm to themselves or their property – it ranges from ‘damage to my computer’ or ‘damage to belongings on my desk.’ Or ‘keying my car’ or ‘having a window broken at home.’ ‘Threats against my family. Threats against myself.’

Rosanne Ott, a former portfolio manager at a New York investment firm, believes she is part of that trend. She says when she blew the whistle on a trading policy she believed was illegal, she faced constant harassment and retaliation until, she says, the company forced her out.

She’s filed suit against her former company – which says her claims are without merit. A federal judge has ruled Ott can continue to pursue her case in court – as a whistleblower.

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