George Fort lost his $335,000-per-year job as chief financial officer at Tennessee Commerce Bank soon after he told the audit committee that the bank was violating securities laws. On March 7, 2008—the day after he passed on his concerns to federal and state regulators—the bank put him on administrative leave. Two months later it fired him.
Fort filed a claim with the Department of Labor (DOL), contending Tennessee Commerce discharged him in retaliation for raising questions about possible insider trading, weak internal controls and other alleged violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). The law protects SOX whistleblowers from retaliation.
Whistleblower advocates view the case as a serious attack on OSHA’s powers because the bank contends that federal judges can’t enforce SOX preliminary reinstatement orders.