Unfulfilled Expectations: An Empirical Analysis of Why Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblowers Rarely Win


Scholars praise the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 as one of the most protective anti-retaliation provisions in the world. Yet, during its first three years, only 3.6% of Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowers won relief through the initial administrative process that adjudicates such claims, and only 6.5% of whistleblowers won appeals through the process. This Article reports the results of an empirical study of all Department of Labor Sarbanes-Oxley determinations during this time, consisting of over 700 separate decisions from administrative investigations and hearings. The results of this detailed analysis demonstrate that administrative decision-makers strictly construed, and in some cases misapplied, Sarbanes-Oxley’s substantive protections to the significant disadvantage of employees. These data-based findings assist in identifying the provisions and procedures of the Act that do not work as Congress intended as well as suggest potential remedies for these statutory and administrative deficiencies.


Administrative Law | Labor and Employment Law

Date of this Version

February 2007