Can Facebook sue whistleblower Frances Haugen? 5 things to know – National

Facebook has not too long ago taken a harsher tone towards whistleblower Frances Haugen, suggesting that the social community may very well be contemplating authorized retaliation after Haugen went public with inner analysis that she copied earlier than leaving her job earlier this 12 months.

U.S. regulation protects whistleblowers who disclose details about potential misconduct to the federal government. However that safety doesn’t essentially cowl taking company secrets and techniques to the media.

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Fb nonetheless has to stroll a positive line. The corporate has to weigh whether or not suing Haugen, which might dissuade different staff who may in any other case communicate out, is price casting itself as a authorized Godzilla prepared to stomp on a girl who says she’s simply doing the suitable factor.

Haugen might face different penalties. Whistleblowers typically put themselves prone to skilled harm – different corporations could also be reluctant to rent them sooner or later – and private assaults from being within the public eye.

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Fb didn’t reply to emailed questions.


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Implications for Fb after Congressional listening to


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Haugen secretly copied a trove of inner Fb paperwork earlier than leaving the corporate and subsequently had her attorneys file complaints with the Securities and Trade Fee alleging that Fb hides what it is aware of concerning the adverse results of its platform.

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John Tye, her lawyer, mentioned the group gave redacted paperwork to Congress, the place Haugen testified on Tuesday, and in addition knowledgeable officers in California. Haugen additionally shared paperwork with the Wall Avenue Journal, which she began speaking to in December, resulting in a collection of explosive tales that started in mid-September.


WHAT WAS FACEBOOK’S RESPONSE?

The corporate says it has been mischaracterized. “I feel most of us simply don’t acknowledge the false image of the corporate that’s being painted,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote to staff on Tuesday.

Some firm officers have additionally begun utilizing harsher language to explain Haugen’s actions that may very well be interpreted as threatening.

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In an Related Press interview Thursday, Fb government Monika Bickert repeatedly referred to the paperwork Haugen copied as “stolen,” a phrase she has additionally utilized in different media interviews. David Colapinto, a lawyer for Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto who makes a speciality of whistleblower instances, mentioned that language was threatening.

In the identical interview, requested if Fb would sue or retaliate in opposition to the whistleblower, Bickert mentioned solely, “I can’t reply that.”

Per week earlier, Antigone Davis, Fb’s head of world security, testified within the Senate that Fb “would by no means retaliate in opposition to somebody for talking to Congress,” which left open the chance that the corporate may go after her for giving paperwork to the Journal.


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Numerous legal guidelines provide whistleblower safety at each the state and federal ranges. The federal legal guidelines relevant to Haugen are the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 Wall Avenue reform regulation, and the Sarbanes Oxley Act, a 2002 regulation that adopted the collapse of Enron and different accounting scandals.

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Dodd-Frdigital ank expanded protections for whistleblowers and empowered the SEC to take motion in opposition to an organization that threatens a whistleblower. Protections exist for each staff and former staff, specialists say.

Requested abFacebook has not too long ago taken a harsher tone towards whistleblower Frances Haugen, suggesting that the social community may very well be contemplating authorized retaliation out her threat as a result of she went to the media, Haugen’s lawyer, Tye, maintains that as a result of Haugen went to the SEC, Congress and state authorities, she’s entitled to whistleblower protections. He mentioned any swimsuit from Fb can be “frivolous” and that Fb has not been in contact.


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WHAT ABOUT HER LEAKS TO THE MEDIA?

Courts haven’t examined whether or not leaking to the media is protected beneath Dodd-Frank, however Colapinto mentioned the U.S. Secretary of Labor decided many years in the past that environmental and nuclear-safety whistleblowers’ communications with the media had been protected. He argues that the language of Sarbanes-Oxley is modeled on these earlier statutes, and Haugen ought to have the identical protections for any of her communications with reporters.

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Fb might allege that Haugen broke her nondisclosure settlement by sharing firm paperwork with the press, leaking commerce secrets and techniques or simply by making feedback Fb considers defamatory, mentioned Lisa Banks of Katz, Marshall and Banks, who has labored on whistleblower instances for many years. “Like many whistleblowers, she’s terribly courageous and places herself at private {and professional} threat in shining a lightweight on these practices,” she mentioned.

Haugen successfully used leaks to the media to show up the stress on Congress and authorities regulators. Colapinto mentioned her disclosures had a public-interest goal that might complicate imposing the NDA if Fb selected to take action.


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COULD FACEBOOK FACE BLOWBACK?

Fb in all probability needs its veiled threats to unnerve different staff or former staff who could be tempted to talk out. “In the event that they go after her, it received’t be as a result of they essentially suppose they’ve a robust case legally, however sending a message to different would-be whistleblowers that they intend to play hardball,” Banks mentioned.

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However she mentioned it could be a “catastrophe” for Fb to go after Haugen. No matter potential authorized vulnerabilities, Fb may appear like a bully if it pursued a authorized case in opposition to her.

“The very last thing Fb wants is to evoke the ire of governmental authorities and the general public at massive by taking part in the position of the massive dangerous large firm in opposition to the brave particular person whistleblower,” mentioned Neil Getnick, whose agency, Getnick and Getnick, represents whistleblowers.




© 2021 The Canadian Press



https://globalnews.ca/information/8255704/could-face-sue-whistleblower-frances-haugen-explainer/ | Can Fb sue whistleblower Frances Haugen? 5 issues to know – Nationwide

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