In light of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Co., the attorney for GE Energy (USA) wants the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to dismiss would-be whistleblower Khaled Asadi’s appeal to have his lawsuit, contending that his firing violates the protections provided to him under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, reinstated. Asadi filed his complaint against the company last year claiming that his former employer had violated the whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions. The dual Iraqi and US citizen says that he was let go from his job after he told GE Energy’s ombudsman and his supervisor about a hiring situation that could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
A district court, however, threw out his case, finding that, per the Supreme Court’s ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., applying the anti-retaliation provisions to behavior that happened abroad is precluded. Asadi then went to the Fifth Circuit, arguing that Dodd-Frank protects employees that report violations of any rule, law, or regulation that is under SEC jurisdiction. He claims that these protections extend to US citizens who work abroad and report information about securities violations.
Asadi believes that the way Dodd-Frank incorporates the FCPA supports his claim that the whistleblower protections do have “extraterritorial applicability.” He noted that the anti-corruption statute has a “clear statement rule” that is applicable to individuals and companies outside the US.
In the Kiobel ruling, the justices voted to affirm the dismissal of the Alien Tort Statute claims submitted by Nigerian nationals against certain British, Nigerian, and Dutch companies over the alleged aiding and abetting of the Nigerian government in numerous law of nations violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the presumption against extraterritoriality can apply to ATS claims and that there is nothing in the statute that successfully counters this presumption. Now, GE Energy’s legal representation contends that like the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kiobel, the district court’s decision in this case also depended on the presumption against extraterritoriality.
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