In what is likely good news for people working for justice all over the country, legislation introduced recently by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee offers extended protection to those individuals who blow the whistle on criminal antitrust violators.

A response to the results of a 2011 study on antitrust enforcement stating that employees and peripheral contacts of antitrust violators are not very likely to report practices such as price fixing, market allocation and bid rigging that are in breach of antitrust law, out of fear of reprisal and retribution, the new bill offers more protection to individuals who are willing to brave the displeasure of their employer in order to help strive for the fair and just capitalism America was once known for.

In today’s economic environment, potential informants who have information vital to antitrust enforcement are forced to balance their personal concerns (‘how do I provide for my dependents if the company fires me and sues me for breach of contract or worse’ for example) with ethical and legal virtues.  It’s a difficult dilemma.

In the past, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has used a leniency program to encourage whistleblowing people or companies to report infractions while avoiding the charges themselves. While effective in some circumstances, leniency could offer the informant no protection from the party in antitrust violation, just from any of those laws that they violated before reporting the offenses.

With the new bill, whistleblowers, while (thankfully) not offered a reward for reporting infractions, will be given means to pursue reinstatement of lost positions or damages.

Ryan Boucher is a college student at Penn State.  You can find more of his work at marketwords.wordpress.com

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