Law360 extensively quotes Phillips & Cohen partner Sean McKessy, the former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program, about how companies and their general counsel should treat whistleblowers and address their concerns.
Attorney Sean McKessy, who represents whistleblowers at Phillips & Cohen LLP, said, “The best way to drive people to report to the SEC is to not take them seriously. The vast majority of people who come to me have already reported it internally, had expectations, listened to their company’s compliance materials, but then were not treated well. Or, in some instances, they had bad things happen to them” after they spoke up at their companies.
“One reason I was hired [at the SEC],” he said, “was I did have an appreciation for what it meant to have an internal compliance program and to spend a lot of time and resources on it. At Caterpillar, my job was to build the compliance program.”
He said only after he worked with the SEC whistleblower office “did I appreciate the SEC’s work and how much it appreciates internal compliance. I wanted to incentivize companies to build internal compliance and invest more in it.”
McKessy said that too often some companies’ first question after hearing a complaint is: “Who told you that?”
“That’s not the right way to think about it,” he said. “Spend your time on what went wrong and how to fix it. Don’t spend resources and time on the who.”
Read the entire article, “How GCs Can Navigate A Slew Of Whistleblower Tips,” on Law360’s website.