Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case that could extend Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) whistleblower protections to employees of private companies that contract with public companies. Lawson v. FMR, LLC, 133 S. Ct. 470; +18 U.S.C. § 1514A. Private employers should pay particular attention to the case as it unfolds.

The case involves two former Fidelity Investments employees who claim they were retaliated against for blowing the whistle on unethical business practices. The lower court (i.e., the First Circuit Court of Appeals) sided with the employer.

Mutual fund companies, such as Fidelity Investments, maintain that SOX whistleblower protections apply only to public, not private, companies, arguing that there are no statutory protections for public-company contractors or subcontractors.

The Court will hear arguments during its next term, beginning October 2013.