Another Whistleblower Wins Case Under Sarbanes-Oxley

New whistleblower rules outlined by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have resulted in a favorable judgment for a former Atlantic Coast Airlines employee who was fired after raising concerns about pilot fraud, the Associated Press reported.

Stacy Platone was the airline’s labor relations manager before being fired last year. An administrative judge awarded back pay and lawyer fees after finding in her favor. The amount of back pay has not yet been determined.

Platone had filed a complaint claiming that some members of the pilots’ union were taking advantage of a labor stipulation that let them collect pay on days they didn’t fly as long as they were working on union matters, the AP reported. She told her supervisors about her suspicions of fraud, which the ruling show cost the airline up to $25,000 per month. She was told to ignore the issue.

"Instead of being praised for finding an abuse, she was fired," Platone's lawyer, Michael York, told the AP.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made it easier for workers to pursue whistleblower complaints by stating they do not have to prove fraud occurred or prove they were filed solely because of the whistleblowing, the AP reported. They now just have to prove that they had a reasonable belief that fraud was happening and that their efforts to uncover it were a contributing factor in their firing.

Her case was the third to receive a favorable outcome since the law was passed two years ago.

Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman wrote that Platone's "suspicions were reasonable, and that she had good grounds to believe that a fraud was being perpetrated on the airline as well as (Atlantic Coast's) stockholders."

Chapman also said, "the events surrounding (Platone's) disclosure of her findings ... buttress a conclusion that she had indeed uncovered fraudulent activity."

The airline plans to appeal the ruling, spokesman Rick DeLisi, told AP. "We believe (the judge's) decision is inconsistent with the facts and law that should have governed this case," DeLisi said.

You may like these other stories...

The 2014 proxy season saw significant growth in audit committee transparency, continuing a recent trend of Fortune 100 companies going beyond the minimum disclosures required, according to a new report from Ernst & Young...
The average annual salary for US finance and accounting professionals who have the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential has gone up slightly over the past year, according to the results of a new study from the...
As the volume of account reconciliations continues to surge, most corporate accounting and finance departments in the United States and Canada are still using a labor-intensive process to make sure their accounts’...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 9In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards.
Oct 15This webinar presents the requirements of AU-C 600, Audits of Group Financial Statements (Including the Work of Component Auditors).
Oct 21Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience’s communication style.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.