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OSHA Orders Tennessee Commerce Bank to Pay Over $1 million for SOX Violations

On March 17, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered Tennessee Commerce Bank to reinstate a former chief financial officer and pay more than $1 million for violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Former CFO George Fort filed a complaint with OSHA on April 4, 2008 alleging that the bank terminated him in retaliation for raising concerns about weak internal controls, potential insider trading, and meeting with state and federal regulators after the bank’s audit committee failed to address his concerns. 

Finding for Mr. Fort, OSHA relied in part on emails displaying “evidence of animus and intent to retaliate” against the complainant.  One email sent by a board member said that he was “in a ‘get even’ mode and…enjoying every minute of it.”  OSHA ordered the bank to reinstate Mr. Fort and awarded him pay back pay and compensatory damages for medical expenses and lost benefits.  Both parties have 30 days object to the order and request a hearing before the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

For more information about The Employment Law Group® law firm’s Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Practice, click here.

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