Dallas Hammer's persistence and passion for defending cybersecurity whistleblowers has paved the way for him to be an expert in the field. His success comes from his ability to advocate for people from all walks of life to help them obtain justice through litigation against the corporations and governmental entities by which they have been wronged. He shares his expertise through frequent articles about whistleblower protections and has been featured in numerous publications.
TYSONS, VA / ACCESSWIRE / May 20, 2020 / The attorney's office looks the way one would expect: a filing cabinet next to a large desk in the foreground; bookshelves filled with thick volumes in the background. Dallas Hammer pauses as he shares an anecdote from his work protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. We are, however, speaking remotely. Hammer pauses to point out how the worldwide pandemic has in some ways accelerated the development of his life's work.
Hammer became a whistleblower attorney in large part due to his father. While serving in the military, his father blew the whistle on misconduct. The retaliation that followed eventually ended his father's career. Witnessing that injustice firsthand developed Hammer's passion for helping people early in his career.
Since then, Hammer's law practice has grown to include an ever-increasing percentage of cybersecurity cases. He says this evolution is reflective of the country as a whole. Cybersecurity started out on the fringe, at a time, decades ago when companies were focused on amassing data rather than securing it. However, as the digital age has matured, the need for cybersecurity has become clear.
So it has gone with Hammer's practice. Because of his personal interest in technology, many years ago, he first began representing information security professionals who suffered retaliation for reporting cybersecurity issues. At the time, precious little legal authority spoke to what protections these workers had. Now, however, Hammer's work consistently includes fighting for cybersecurity whistleblowers who find themselves on the frontlines in a nation that is finally confronting the crucial need for pervasive, effective information security. While that need has generally been accepted, the reality of what it requires is not always popular.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring that information security professionals are incentivized to report rather than conceal cybersecurity vulnerabilities, Hammer began researching anti-retaliation provisions that could protect information security workers. He also set out to educate cybersecurity professionals about their rights.
Hammer has written numerous articles on cybersecurity whistleblowers, like The Rise of Cybersecurity Whistleblowing and Effective Cybersecurity and Data Protection Legislation Should Protect Whistleblowers. He is routinely quoted in articles on the subject, such as the Wall Street Journal's Cybersecurity Whistleblowers Are Growing Corporate Challenge and Corporate Crime Reporter's interview, Dallas Hammer on the Rise of Cybersecurity Whistleblowing.
When representing clients, Hammer views his work in terms of the results he achieves for his clients. 'It is a concept Edward Bennett Williams called ‘contest living,'' Hammer said. 'Williams' work had a big impact on me, and to him winning was the only measure of success. When it comes to representing your clients, there is no participation trophy. The only question that matters is whether your work puts your client in a better place.'
To that end, Hammer can count many successes. He has obtained multiple seven-figure settlements for Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowers, full relief for federal whistleblowers (including one who was subjected to retaliation as the result of cybercrime), and a host of positive resolutions for vulnerable and low-income clients. These victories have been on behalf of all types of workers, from executives to entry-level earners, a fact that Hammer takes pride in.
'Your clients have put their lives in your hands, put so much trust in you,' Hammer said. 'Seeing the impact of making that one client's life better, resolving a very negative experience for them - that feeling is hard to describe. It doesn't matter what they do; everyone deserves dignity, and coming through for them when it counts, coming out on top after that struggle, that's all that matters.'
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hammer says that he cannot choose a favorite case. Though he measures success one client and one case at a time, his goal is to have a broader positive impact.
'I can't pick just one,' he recounts. 'I have a tremendous amount of respect, and society owes a debt of gratitude, for people who have the courage to speak up, to do what we are always taught to do, which is to tell the truth and stand up for what's right. To paraphrase Robert Kennedy, they are all ripples of hope that collectively confront injustice.'
Hammer's experience is not limited to cybersecurity issues. With his broad experience in litigating whistleblower retaliation, discrimination, and employment-related disputes, he leads Zuckerman Law's cybersecurity whistleblower practice and Virginia employment practice. However, improving the situation for cybersecurity whistleblowers is certainly a priority.
In particular, Hammer would like to see Congress pass a federal statute that protects cybersecurity and data privacy whistleblowers. 'Most often I can find protection for my clients under existing law, but no federal statute deals directly with information security whistleblowers,' Hammer said. 'These workers are reporting and trying to correct very serious issues, some of which should keep you up at night. It is bitter when the gaps in the law mean that wrongdoers can silence a cybersecurity whistleblower with no repercussions.'
Hammer said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in the use of technology to facilitate remote workplaces, which has only emphasized the need for effective cybersecurity. But that need pre-existed the virus, and it will remain after employees return to the workplace.
'Cybersecurity and data privacy are integral facets of our everyday lives now,' he said. 'That's not new at this point, and it's not going to change. However, if the pandemic puts a spotlight on that and helps Congress see the urgent need for federal regulation, then that's a small silver lining.'
Though Hammer predicts federal legislation could still be years away and that retaliation against cybersecurity whistleblowers will remain prevalent for the foreseeable future, he remains hopeful. He points to the proliferation of state data privacy laws, as well as sudden and substantial shifts in favor of protecting workers, such as a host of new employee protections recently enacted in Virginia.
'The key is persistence. You have to be willing to stay, show up every day, and bring the fight one case at a time. You enjoy the victories as they come, and you hope that work will eventually accumulate and have a positive impact. I've been fortunate enough to see that happen, and it is what keeps me passionate and excited about what will come next out of all this.'
Dallas has had numerous articles published and featured in legal publications, including:
- SOX Whistleblower Protections Are Not Obsolete - Law360 (September 2015)
- 5 Years of Dodd-Frank Taking Stock - Law360 (July 2015)
- Sixth Circuit Hands A Landmark Victory to SOX Whistleblowers Law360 (June 2015)
- A Year for Whistleblower Rewards and Protections - Law360 (December 2014).
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SOURCE: Zuckerman Law
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