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Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 8, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, S. 2258, the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, like its House companion, H.R. 8226, protects whistleblowers who help the Federal Government investigate and prosecute criminal violations of antitrust laws.

When workers give information to law enforcement, cooperate with criminal investigations, or testify about an employer's crimes, their employer may retaliate. Retaliation can take many forms, such as firing, demotion, suspension, or other types of retaliatory discrimination. Whatever its form, retaliation is wrong.

Workers should not be punished when they help the authorities address criminal antitrust violations, violations that ultimately harm American consumers. If this retaliation goes unaddressed, it can have damaging long-term effects. For one thing, unaddressed retaliation can suppress future whistleblowers who might otherwise step forward to shine a light on any wrongdoing.

When whistleblowers are scared to speak out, law enforcement may never learn of the criminal antitrust violations in the first place. Likewise, without the help from whistleblowers during investigations, law enforcement agencies may be unable to successfully prosecute wrongdoers.

S. 2258 addresses these policy concerns by prohibiting retaliatory discrimination against whistleblowers who speak out against criminal antitrust violations.

This bill also gives whistleblowers recourse if their employers do choose to retaliate. Under the bill, a whistleblower can file a complaint through a process the Department of Labor oversees and, in limited circumstances, seek relief by suing in Federal court.

While establishing whistleblower protections, S. 2258 also puts important guardrails in place to ensure that bad actors do not abuse this law. The bill denies whistleblower protections to people who instigate the violation of criminal antitrust laws or obstruct an investigation. Instead, the bill will protect workers who are acting in good faith.

Finally, I should note that our colleague, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, a cosponsor of the House companion bill, has worked throughout his career to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. He has described the general policy animating this bill and highlighted the importance of whistleblowers when he said that whistleblowers help maintain the integrity of our laws. Mr. Sensenbrenner is correct.