In Robertson v. Intratek Computer, Inc. (5th Cir., No. 19-50792, 10/2/2020), Robertson sued the employer for violating the whistleblower statute for federal contractors, 41 U.S.C. § 4712. The district court compelled arbitration and the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
Robertson had signed an arbitration agreement with the employer as a condition of employment. Shortly after the employer fired Robertson, he filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of the Inspector General for the Veterans Administration, alleging the employer’s CEO had bribed VA officials for lucrative government contracts. Robertson then sued the employer for violating 41 U.S.C. § 4712. Robertson opposed the employer’s motion to compel arbitration by arguing that federal whistleblower claims are exempt from arbitration. The district court rejected that argument and compelled arbitration.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that nothing in the text or legislative history of the statute showed an intent to exempt claims arising thereunder from the Federal Arbitration Act. Although the whistleblower statute referred to jury trials, the court held that was not the only one way claimants could exercise their statutory rights; and further that a jury trial was not, by itself, the exclusive right or remedy created by the whistleblower statute.