Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Digital Realty Trust in Closely Watched Whistleblower Case

February 2018

Digital Realty retained Williams & Connolly as lead counsel on appeal to the Supreme Court from an adverse decision by the Ninth Circuit.  A former employee filed a claim against Digital Realty under the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, claiming that the company had retaliated against him for making internal complaints protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Digital Realty moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that the plaintiff could not bring a claim under the Dodd-Frank Act because the Act defines a “whistleblower” as someone who has reported information about securities-law violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which the plaintiff did not do.  Kannon Shanmugam argued the case before the Court on November 28, 2017. 

On February 21, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Digital Realty Trust, narrowing the definition of the term “whistleblower.”  As a result of the Court’s decision, employees who allege securities-law violations by their employers must first take their allegations to the SEC to invoke the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision.  The firm’s successful representation of Digital Realty Trust earned a top spot on Law360’s Legal Lions list.

The team representing Digital Realty Trust included Kannon Shanmugam, Amy Mason Saharia, A. Joshua Podoll, and Meng Jia Yang

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