May 7, 2024


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The recent Supreme Court decision in Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC clarified whistleblower laws in the United States under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Court’s February 8, 2024 ruling addresses critical aspects of what whistleblowers must prove to establish retaliation claims. In this article, we will dissect this decision to highlight its implications for both employers and employees in California and beyond.

Case Background

Trevor Murray, the plaintiff, was a former employee of UBS Securities. Murray’s allegations centered around his claim that he was terminated as a direct result of whistleblowing activities. Specifically, he reported that two leaders of the UBS trading desk were engaging in practices he believed to be illegal and unethical. These reports, he argued, fell squarely under the protections afforded by the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which are designed to shield employees who expose fraudulent activities or violations of SEC regulations. The central issue in his case was whether whistleblowers must prove that their employers acted with “retaliatory intent” when they faced adverse actions after reporting wrongdoing.

U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Second Circuit decision that had introduced the requirement for whistleblowers to prove retaliatory intent by their employers. The Court ruled that the statutory language of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act does not include such a requirement. Instead, the Court emphasized that a whistleblower only needs to show that their protected activity was a “contributing factor” to the adverse employment action. This standard is intended to be more accommodating to whistleblowers, easing their burden of proof in retaliation cases.

Implications for Employment Practices

This ruling has significant implications for employment law cases involving the Sarbanes-Oxley Act:

  1. Easier Burden of Proof for Whistleblowers: Whistleblowers do not need to demonstrate that their employer had retaliatory intent, which lowers the evidentiary barrier for proving retaliation claims.
  2. Review of Corporate Policies: Companies must ensure that their whistleblower policies and practices are robust and clearly documented to prevent any discriminatory actions that could be perceived as retaliation.
  3. Training and Awareness: Employers should conduct regular training sessions with management and employees about the rights of whistleblowers and the legal repercussions of violating these protections.


The Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC decision reaffirms the protective measures intended by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for whistleblowers. It underscores the importance of a legal framework that supports employees in reporting wrongdoing without the fear of retaliation. At ILG Legal Office, we are dedicated to guiding our clients through these complex legal landscapes, ensuring that both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations under current laws.

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For more detailed advice and legal support related to employment law and whistleblower protections, please contact ILG Legal Office. Stay informed and compliant with our expert legal guidance.