A federal judge has ruled that the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that prohibit retaliation against employees do not apply to workers outside of the United States.
In the case, Khaled Asadi worked for General Electric (GE) in Iraq. Asadi’s job was to negotiate with the Iraqi government to obtain energy service contracts. Asadi became concerned when he learned that GE had hired a local woman with ties to the Iraqi electricity minister to broker deals as well. Asadi, concerned that GE was violating U.S. law, both under Dodd-Frank and under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, reported his suspicions to his supervisor and to the company ombudsperson.
Shortly after reporting his concerns, Asadi received a review that he called “surprisingly negative.” Asadi was then transferred to a lesser position with little responsibility. GE then began severance negotiations with Asadi before “abruptly” firing him. GE notified Asadi that as a U.S. company, it was allowed to fire Asadi as an at-will employee and was told that he would be terminated in the United States. Asadi filed a lawsuit against GE claiming that he was fired illegally, as retaliation for his complaints of corruption under the Dodd-Frank Act.
The U.S. District Court for the S.D. of Texas ruled that Asadi was not employed in the United States. Therefore, determined the court, he may not pursue a lawsuit for retaliation under U.S. law.