Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. v. United States Department of Labor

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 13, 2019

NORTHROP GRUMMAN SYSTEMS CORP., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW BOARD, Respondent,
v.
CRISELL SEGUIN, Intervenor. NORTHROP GRUMMAN SYSTEMS CORP., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW BOARD, Respondent,
v.
CRISELL SEGUIN, Intervenor.

          Argued: March 21, 2019

          On Petition for Review of the Orders of the United States Department of Labor, Administrative Review Board. (15-038; 15-040; 16-014), (15-038; 16-014)

         ARGUED:

          David William Ogden, WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP, Washington, D.C., for Petitioner.

          Sarah Kay Marcus, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

         ON BRIEF:

          Lincoln O. Bisbee, P. David Larson, MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP, Washington, D.C.; Kelly P. Dunbar, Emily F. Gomez, WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP, Washington, D.C., for Petitioner.

          Kate S. O'Scannlain, Solictor of Labor, Jennifer S. Brand, Associate Solicitor, William C. Lesser, Deputy Associate Solicitor, Megan E. Guenther, Counsel for Whistleblower Programs, Office of the Solicitor, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

          Before AGEE, KEENAN, and QUATTLEBAUM, Circuit Judges.

          QUATTLEBAUM, CIRCUIT JUDGE:

         In 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ("SOX").[1] SOX provides several provisions protecting shareholders in public companies, including whistleblower protection. The whistleblower protection provision prohibits employers in public companies from firing an employee for providing information to a person with supervisory authority over the employee relating to mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, a violation of any SEC rule or regulation or fraud against shareholders.[2]18 U.S.C. § 1514A(a)(1).

         This case involves the scope of SOX's whistleblower protection provision. Intervenor Crisell Seguin alleges that she was terminated by Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation ("Northrop") in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1514A. Because we conclude that Seguin does not qualify for whistleblower protection under 18 U.S.C. § 1514A, we vacate the administrative orders and remand the case with instructions for the dismissal of Seguin's complaint and entry of judgment for Northrop.

         I.

         A.

         SOX requires an employee asserting a whistleblower claim to establish: (1) the employee engaged in a protected activity; (2) the employer knew or suspected that the employee engaged in a protected activity; (3) the employee suffered an adverse action; and (4) the circumstances were sufficient to raise the inference that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action. 29 C.F.R. § 1980.104(e)(2). To show that she engaged in protected activity, an employee must show that she had a subjective belief and an objectively reasonable belief that the conduct she complained of violated one of the six enumerated categories of § 1514A(a)(1). Welch v. Chao, 536 F.3d 269, 275 (4th Cir. 2008).[3] Those categories are mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, any SEC rule or regulation or any federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. Significantly, all six categories relate to fraud. See, e.g.¸ Livingston v. Wyeth, Inc., 520 F.3d 344, 351 n.1 (4th Cir. 2008).

         The requirement that the information provided relate to one of the six specified categories is crucial. The whistleblower protection provision does not extend protection to every employee complaint about possible improper or even illegal conduct. The provision prohibits retaliation only if the employee provides information regarding conduct that he or she reasonably believes violates one of six categories listed by Congress in § 1514A(a)(1). Villanueva v. United States Dept. of Labor, 743 F.3d 103, 109 (5th Cir. 2014).

         B.

         With these legal principles in hand, we turn to the facts and procedural history of this case. Although Seguin's alleged protected activity occurred in 2011, the origins of Seguin's complaints against Northrop can be traced back to 2007 when Seguin filed suit against Northrop in Virginia state court. In this defamation suit, Seguin alleged that her supervisor at Northrop knowingly and recklessly made false statements about her in a performance review. In response to Seguin's lawsuit, Northrop filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to its arbitration policy. The Virginia state court granted Northrop's motion.

         Seguin appealed the state court's order to the Supreme Court of Virginia, arguing that Northrop's arbitration policy was not binding on her because she never accepted the arbitration policy. The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed Seguin's appeal for lack of jurisdiction and denied her petition for rehearing. Seguin's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.