Whistleblower Law Blog
ALJ Orders BB&T Bank to Reinstate SOX Whistleblower Who Disclosed Ponzi Scheme
On April 1, 2010, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Tureck found that BB&T violated the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and ordered the bank to reinstate Amy Stroupe, awarding her approximately three years of back pay. Stroupe, a corporate fraud investigator, uncovered a $100 million Ponzi scheme funded in part with $20 million of fraudulent loans made by her employer. BB&T terminated Stroupe for pursing her investigation into a top loan producer and disagreeing with managers who were attempting to conceal the extent of BB&T’s involvement in the scheme. BB&T contended that it terminated Stroupe for discussing the investigation with other employees and for missing a half day of work without permission.
Judge Tureck rejected BB&T’s defense, holding that BB&T failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Stroup would have been terminated absent her protected activity. According to Judge Tureck’s opinion, BB&T’s classification of Stroupe’s behavior as insubordinate was not “reasonable or persuasive . . . Moreover, one thing that is clear from the evidence in this case is that the Complainant was never insubordinate. The record shows that she did what she was told to do, even when she disagreed.” Relying on comparator evidence, Judge Tureck also rejected the argument that Stroupe was terminated for missing a half day of work, concluding that “BB&T has not supported by clear and convincing evidence that it would have immediately terminated Stroupe for missing an afternoon of work without prior consent.”
The case is Stroupe v. Branch Banking & Trust Co. and a copy of the opinion is available here.
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