Proposed Senate Bill Would Impose Criminal Liability On Corporate Executives and Protect Whistleblowers

Pressure continues to build for the Department of Justice to hold corporate executives criminally responsible for corporate misconduct.  As previously discussed here and here, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates recently announced new guidance that the DOJ will focus increasingly on prosecuting high level executives for corporate wrongdoing.  Two United States Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), have also taken up this cause, and have introduced the “Hide No Harm Act of 2015.”  The Hide No Harm Act, if passed, would make it a crime for “any responsible corporate officer” with “actual knowledge of a serious danger associated with” any covered product, service, or business practice not to “verbally inform an appropriate Federal agency” within 24 hours and not to warn possibly affected individuals “as soon as practical.”  The failure to do so would be punishable by up to five years in prison.

One of the key components of the proposed bill is an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits companies from taking adverse employment action against any employee that “informed a Federal agency, warned employees, or informed other individuals of a serious danger of a covered product.”  This provision provides broad protection for whistleblowers in this context.

We will closely monitor the progress of this bill and provide updates as they become available.