The Securities & Exchange Commission today announced settled charges against Monolith Resources LLC, a privately held energy & technology company headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, for using employee separation agreements that violated the SEC’s whistleblower protection rules.
According to the SEC’s order, from February 2020 until early March 2023, Monolith used separation agreements that required certain departing employees to waive their rights to monetary whistleblower awards in connection with filing claims with or participating in investigations by government agencies. The SEC’s order finds that Monolith’s separation agreements raised impediments to participation in the SEC’s whistleblower program by having employees forego important financial incentives that are intended to encourage people to communicate directly with SEC staff about possible securities law violations.
“Both private & public companies must understand that they cannot take actions or use separation agreements that in any way disincentivize employees from communicating with SEC staff about potential violations of the federal securities laws,” said Jason J. Burt, Regional Director of the SEC’s Denver Office. “Any attempt to stifle or discourage this type of communication undermines our regulatory oversight & will be dealt with appropriately.”
The SEC’s order finds that Monolith violated Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 21F-17. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Monolith consented to cease & desist from committing or causing violations of the SEC’s whistleblower protection rules. Monolith also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $225,000, which takes into account its remedial actions, including notifying former employees who had signed the improper separation agreements that the agreements do not in any way limit their ability to obtain financial awards in connection with providing information to government agencies.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jeffrey S. Lyons & supervised by Ian S. Karpel, Nicholas P. Heinke, & Mr. Burt of the Denver Regional Office.