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New corporate accountability law holds employment-law surprises

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

It's no secret that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made sweeping reforms to corporate governance law. But employers are learning that it also includes some employment-related provisions for public companies that could have far-reaching consequences. Among the most significant:

New whistle-blower protections for employees when they disclose information about fraud within their company. The employee's burden of proof is to show that his complaint was a contributing factor in an adverse employment decision.

Tougher reporting procedures for the confidential, anonymous submission of employees' concerns about accounting or auditing matters.

A ban on loans to any directors or executive officers. But neither credit cards issued by businesses to their employees nor margin loans for personal securities brokerage accounts held by employees are part of the ban.

Increased ERISA penalties for squandering an employee's pension, both monetary and criminal sentencing.

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