“Defend Trade Secrets Act” Signed into Law

Washington, D.C. May 11, 2016. Today, President Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which includes major whistleblower reforms.

The Act contains strong and much needed protections for corporate whistleblowers, establishing immunity for employees who disclose trade secrets to the government as part of a whistleblower case. The Act sets forth clear procedures employees can follow to obtain this immunity, and requires all employers to notify their employees of these rights.

In December 2015 the NWC endorsed the proposed Leahy-Grassley amendment as “an important legislative fix.” The NWC further explained to the Judiciary Committee that the amendment was “needed” “because whistleblowers are being threatened with counterclaims based on the pretext and/or a legitimate concern over ‘trade secrets.’” The NWC also recommended the “proposed bill set up reasonable procedures for a whistleblower to raise a concern, and not be fearful that he or she will be faced with a counter-lawsuit.”

“Corporations will no longer be able to threaten to sue employees for lawfully disclosing trade secrets as a way to retaliate against and silence whistleblowers,” said Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. “This reform was badly needed. Whistleblowers who follow the clear and reasonable procedures set forth in the law will not need to fear retaliatory counter-lawsuits,” Kohn explained.

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