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Whistleblower statutes protect employees when they find themselves in the difficult position of discovering their employer violating a law or in some way breaching the public trust. If the employer is warned of the problem but takes no action, or asks the employee to keep the situation confidential, the employee may be personally participating in a crime and may be exposed to a certain amount of personal liability. Sometimes, the right thing to do is to report the employer to the authorities (or, "blow the whistle"), but the employee may risk losing his job or position within the company. In this situation, the employee may be torn between a legal or ethical duty and perceived loyalty to his employer. "Whistleblower" issues arise in various circumstances, such as when an employee discovers that his employer that is a government contractor is overbilling the government, or when a public or private employer is discovered cutting corners on safety matters in violation of rules and regulations under state occupational health and safety acts. Other situations may involve employer practices of job discrimination, abuse of adult or juvenile patients in a health care facility, or medical malpractice.

In these situations, if an employee exposes an unsafe, illegal or unethical practice to the authorities, the employee may be the subject of punitive or retaliatory action, such as, dismissal, transfer to an undesirable job assignment, demotion, etc. Whistleblower statutes may prohibit dismissal or other retaliatory action against the employee. They may also provide for enhanced monetary awards to employees who "blow the whistle" on an unscrupulous employer.

State whistleblower statutes vary in a number of respects. Some states only provide explicit protection of public employees or those working for government contractors. Statutes also vary with respect to whom is protected or on whom the whistle may be blown. Some states extend protection to other co-workers who assist the whistleblower; some explicitly protect an employee who blows the whistle on fellow employees or another person or business entity with a business relationship with the employer.

Most states limit remedies that an employee may recover to actual damages, such as back pay or fringe benefits. In some cases, however, the employee is given a money award tied to the illegal or unethical activity exposed. In South Carolina, if the employee's report or complaint results in a savings of public funds, s/he may recover 25% of the estimated net savings in the first year after corrective action is undertaken, up to $2,000.

It should be noted that in addition to state statutes, there are a number of federal whistleblower provisions which protect employees in much the same way. However, many federal laws include much harsher penalties for employers and greater rewards for employees who risk careers and livelihoods by reporting activity that is damaging to the public trust.

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
ALABAMA 25-5-11.1
25-8-57
Terminating for filing a written notice of violation of safety rule under §25-5-11 (c)(4); termination for filing action against employer to recover workers' compensation Both Yes, employer may not retaliate against employee or individual who tries to remedy violations of child labor chapter. (25-8-57) Can not discharge, discipline, threaten, harass, blacklist, or in any other manner discriminate if employee disclosed information, refused to obey an illegal order, or revealed any violation of this chapter  
36-26A-1, et. seq. Can not discharge, demote, transfer, or otherwise discipline regarding compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges Public   Can bring civil action within 2 years of violation; court can award back pay, front pay, and compensatory damages  
ALASKA 39.90.100 to .150 Discharge, threaten, disqualify or otherwise discriminate for actual or expected reports to a public body or for participating in court action, investigation, hearing or inquiry held by public body on matter of public concern Public   Civil action for punitive damages as well as other appropriately found relief; a municipality isn't liable if it adopts an ordinance that provides similar protections Civil fine, maximum $10,000
18.60.088, .089, .095 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee or representative files a complaint, institutes proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of safety or health standard that threatens physical harm or imminent danger Private Yes May file complaint with commissioner of health and safety within 30 days of the violation to get reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
ARIZONA 38-531 to 38-534 An employee who has control over personnel actions can not take reprisal against an employee for disclosure of information to public body on violation of any law or mismanagement, waste of funds, or abuse of authority Public   May recover, under civil action, attorney's fees, costs, back pay, general and special damages and full reinstatement or injunctive relief; may make a complaint to appropriate independent personnel board, school district governing board, or community college governing board of discharged for disclosing; excludes state university or boards of regents which have a rule or provision for protecting employees at time personnel action is taken; employee can appeal final administrative decision or get trial de novo in superior court Civil penalty, maximum $5,000
23-425 & 23-418 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding, or testifies regarding a violation of health or safety statutes Both   May file a complaint with commissioner within 30 days of violation for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief If willful or repeated violating: maximum $7,000 for each violation; minimum $5,000 for each violation
ARKANSAS 16-123- 108, 107 Can not discriminate if employee in good faith opposed an act or practice made unlawful, or testified or participated in a proceeding regarding a violation of Arkansas Civil Rights Act Both   Can file civil action within 1 year of violation to enjoin further violations, recover compensatory and punitive damages and court and attorney's fees  
CALIFORNIA Labor §1102.5 to 1105 Can not prevent or retaliate against employee for disclosing to government or law enforcement agency when employee has reasonable cause to believe there's a violation Both   Can recover damages for injury suffered Misdemeanor: individual, up to 1 year in county jail and/or $1,000 fine; corporate, maximum $5,000 fine

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
COLORADO 24-50.5- 101 to 107 Can not initiate or administer any disciplinary action if employee disclosed information on actions of state agencies that are not in the public interest, unless employee knows information is false or discloses with disregard for truth, or disclosed information on records closed to public inspection or discloses information which is confidential under any other law Public   If employee in state personnel system: may file a written complaint within 30 days with state personnel board to get reinstatement, back pay, restore lost service credit, records expunged, and any other additional relief as found appropriate by the board. If not or have already filed a complaint, but complaint denied: can bring civil suit to recover damages, court costs and other relief  
§24-114- 101, et. seq. Can not initiate or administer any disciplinary action if employee discloses information unless employee knows information is false, or information confidential under laws Private Employee must make good faith effort to provide supervisor or appointing authority or member of general assembly with information to be disclosed before disclosing Can bring civil action; court can give damages, court costs and other appropriate relief  
CONNECTICUT 31-51m, 4-61dd Cannot discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize because employee or his/her representative reports a violation or suspected violation or requested an investigation, hearing, or inquiry or if public employee reports to a public body concerning unethical practices, mismanagement, or abuse of authority, unless employee knows such report is false Both   If employer violates statute, employee may, after exhausting all available administrative remedies, bring civil action within 90 days of final administrative decision or the violation for reinstatement, back pay, to reestablish benefits, court and attorney's fees. If public, transmit facts and information to auditors of public accounts; if discriminate against can file claim within 30 days of incident with employee review board or in accordance with collective bargaining contract  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
DELAWARE Tit. 29 §5115 Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate because employee reported to an elected official a violation or suspected violation of law or regulation unless employee knows report is false Public   Civil action: for injunctive relief, actual damages, or both within 90 days of alleged violation  
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 1-615.51, et seq. Can not discharge, suspend, demote, or other retaliatory action if employee discloses or threatens to disclose, provide information or testify or object or refuse to participate in violation of a law or rule or misuse of government resources or funds under control of government official Public   Can file civil action within 1 year for injunction, recission, reinstatement, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, back pay and benefits, and attorney and court fees  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
FLORIDA 112.3187 Can not dismiss, discipline, or other adverse personnel action against employee for disclosing information of any violation or suspected violation of law or regulation or act by independent contractor which creates a substantial and specific danger to the public's health, safety, and welfare or act of gross management malfeasance, gross public waste of funds or gross neglect of duty unless information known by employee to be false Both   If employee of state agency: file complaint after pursuing administrative remedy or civil action within 180 days after receipt of notice of investigation termination. If local public employee: have 60 days after violation to file complaint with appropriate local government authority. Then can bring civil action within 180 days after final decision of local governmental authority, or 180 days after violation if authority hasn't an administrative procedure by ordinance or contract. Any other person: after exhausting all available contractual or administrative remedies may bring civil action within 180 days after violation. Relief: reinstatement, back and full benefits, lost wages, reasonable costs, injunction, temporary reinstatement  
GEORGIA 45-1-4 No action may be taken or threatened by any public employer with authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve as a reprisal for making a complaint or disclosing information to the public employer unless information disclosed with knowledge that it was false or with willful disregard for its truth or falsity Public   Can have any prohibited action taken by employer set aside in a proceeding in court  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
HAWAII 378-61, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate because employee or their representative reports or is about to report to public body a violation or suspected violation of law or rule or is requested by public body to participate in a hearing, investigation, inquiry, or court action unless employee knows report is false Both   Civil action: injunction, actual damages or both within 2 yrs. after violation. Court remedies: reinstatement, back pay, full reinstatement of benefits and seniority rights, actual damages and any other appropriate relief as well as court costs and attorney's fees Person: fine, minimum $500, maximum $5,000 for each violation
IDAHO 6-2101, et. seq. Can not take adverse action against an employee because employee or its representative communicates in good faith the existence of any waste of public funds, property or manpower or violation or suspected violation of a law, rule, or regulation including participating in an investigation, hearing, court proceeding, legislative or other inquiry or other form of administrative review, or where employee refused or objected to directive they reasonably believe violates law, rule, or regulation and employer cannot implement rules or policies that unreasonably restrict employee's ability to document a violation Public   Civil action: for injunction and/or actual damages within 180 days of violation. Court remedies: injunction, reinstatement, reinstate full benefits and seniority rights, back pay, reasonable court costs and attorney's fees Civil fine: maximum $500
ILLINOIS 5 ILCS 395/.01, et seq. Can not reprimand, suspend, discharge, demote, deny promotion or transfer because employee of a constitutional officer reports violation of any law, rule, regulation, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific danger to public health and safety unless disclosure is prohibited by law Public      

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
INDIANA 4-15-10-4 & 36-1-8-8 (public); 22-5-3-3 (private) Can not dismiss, withhold salary increases or employment-related benefits, transfer or reassign, deny promotion or demote if employee reports violation of federal law or regulation, state law or rule, violates ordinance of a political subdivision or misuse of public funds Both   Report to supervisor or appointing authority or state ethics commission if supervisor or appointing authority involved with violation. If no good faith effort made by reportee, submit a written report to any concerned person, agency, or organization; can also seek a legal remedy Class A infraction
IOWA 70A.28 & 29 Can not discharge, deny appointment or promotion, if employee discloses information they reasonably believe evidences a violation of law or rule, mismanagement, gross abuse of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, unless disclosure prohibited by statute Public   If employer is not head of a state department/agency or serves in a supervisory capacity within the executive branch of state government, employee can enforce through civil action, and employer is liable for affirmative relief including reinstatement, back pay, or any other equitable relief including attorney's fees and costs. If employee permanent, classified. Simple misdemeanor
KANSAS 75-2973 Can not prohibit employee from discussing the agency's operation with member of legislature, reporting violation of state or federal law, rules or regulations or require prior notice to making report Public   If employee is permanent, classified, can appeal to state civil service board, any court of law or administrative hearing, if filed within 30 days of alleged disciplinary action. If employee is unclassified, can bring civil action, for injunction and/or actual damage, within 90 days of alleged violation. Court can grant reinstatement, back wages, full reinstatement of benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, and reasonable attorney fees and witness fees If officer or employee is permanent, classified, suspension on leave without pay for maximum of 30 days; if willful or repeated violation, may require resignation or disqualification for appointment to or employment as a state officer or employee for maximum of 2 years

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
KENTUCKY 61.101, et seq. Can not subject to reprisal, threat to use authority, or influence in any manner, against any person who supports, aids, or substantiates a report or an employee who in good faith reports, discloses, divulges any facts, or information relative to an actual or suspected violation of any law, statute, executive order, administrative regulation, mandate, rule or ordinance, mismanagement, fraud, waste, abuse of authority or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety Public   Civil action for injuries or punitive damages within 90 days after violation  
338.121 & 338.991 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee or representative files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of any occupational safety or health statute that threatens physical harm and imminent danger Both   File a complaint with commissioner for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief If willfully or repeatedly violates, minimum $5,000 and maximum $70,000 per violation; otherwise civil penalty, maximum $10,000 per violation
LOUISIANA 30:2027 Can not act in a retaliatory manner against an employee who discloses or threatens to disclose a violation of environmental law, rule or regulation or provides information to or testifies before an investigation hearing Both   Civil action for triple damages and all court costs and attorney's fees and all other civil and criminal remedies  
42:1169 Can not discipline or reprise an employee who reports a violation of any rule, order, or regulation, or any acts of impropriety within a government entity or related to the scope and/or duties of public employment or public office within state government Public   If employee is suspended, demoted, or dismissed, then report to board of ethics for elected officials or the commission on ethics for public employees. Remedies: reinstatement, back pay and benefits  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
MAINE 26§831, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee reports a violation of a law or rule of the state, political subdivision or US, a condition or practice that would put at risk the health or safety of that employee or is requested to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry or refuses to carry out a directive that violates the act Both Yes Employee must first report violation to a supervisor and give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct unless employee has specific reason to believe that reports to employer won't result in correction  
MARYLAND SPP 5-301, et seq. Can not take or refuse to take any personnel action as reprisal if applicant or employee discloses abuse of authority, gross mismanagement or waste of money, violation of law or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety and seeks a remedy Public   Can submit a complaint to the secretary within 6 months of first knowledge of violation; if violation found, secretary can remove detrimental information from complainant's personnel record, reinstatement, promotion or end of suspension, back pay, leave or seniority and attorney's and court fees  
MASSACHUSETTS 149§185 Can not discharge, suspend, demote, or other retaliatory action if employee discloses or threatens to disclose; provides information or testifies; or objects or refuses to participate in violation of law, rule or risk to public health, safety, or environment Public Employee must bring violation to attention of his/her supervisor and afford them the opportunity to correct unless employee a) was certain supervisors know of violation and situation is an emergency, b) reasonably fears physical harm resulting from disclosure or c) unless disclosure is evidence of a crime Can file civil action within 2 years of incident, court can give all civil law tort remedies including: temporary restraining order, preliminary/permanent injunction, reinstatement, reinstate full benefits and seniority rights, back pay, benefits, court and attorney's fees  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
MICHIGAN 15§361, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee or representative of employee reports or is about to report violation of law, regulation, or rule or because employee testifies in hearing or a court action unless employee knows disclosure is false Both   Can file civil action within 90 days if violation for injunction and/or actual damages, including attorney's fees. Court may award: reinstatement, back pay, reinstate benefits and seniority rights, and court costs Civil fine, maximum $500
MINNESOTA 181.931, et seq. Can not discharge, discipline, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or penalize if employee reports violation of federal or state law or rule or is requested to testify or refuses to perform an action that he/she reasonably believes is in violation unless its disclosure of confidential communication provided by civil law Both   Can file civil action to recover all damages and attorney's fees as well as injunctive relief Civil penalty; $25 per day per injured employee, maximum $750 per injured employee
MISSISSIPPI 25-9-171, et seq. Can not dismiss or otherwise adversely affect the compensation or employment status if employee testifies or provides information to an investigative body Public   Can file civil action (without exhausting administrative remedies) for back pay and reinstatement Each member of any agency's governing board or authority or ecutive director may be individually liable for civil fine; maximum $10,000 per violation

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
MISSOURI 105.055 Can not take or prohibit disciplinary action if employee discusses operations of agency, with any member of legislature or state auditor, any violation of law, rule or regulation, mismanagement, gross waste of public funds, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, as long as disclosure not specifically prohibited by law Public No prior notice required Can file an administrative appeal, if disciplinary action taken, with state personnel advisory board within 30 days of action; board can modify and/or reverse disciplinary action and order appropriate relief State personnel advisory board can recommend that violator be suspended without pay for maximum 30 days; if willful or repeated violation, recommend forfeiture and disqualification of appointment or state employment for a maximum of 2 years
MONTANA 39-2-901, et seq. Can not discharge or otherwise terminate employee in retaliation if employee refused to violate constitutional provision, statute or administrative rule regarding public health, safety, or welfare or reports a violation of the same Both   Must first exhaust internal procedures for appealing discharge, but after 90 days or exhaustion, whichever comes first, can file an action (within 1 year of discharge) to get back pay and fringe benefits (for a maximum 4 years, less interim earnings) and punitive damages if employer engaged in fraud or malice in discharging  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
NEBRASKA 81-2701, et seq. Person with authority to recommend, approve, direct, or take other personnel action can not dismiss, demote, transfer, reassign, suspend, or other personnel action if employee discloses information or testifies before public counsel or other officials Public   If incident occurs or is about to occur, employee contacts public counsel who sends finding to personnel appeals board or director/chief operations officer of agency, who, after a hearing, can stay or reverse personnel action, grant back pay or other appropriate relief and reasonable attorney's fees, or employee can maintain an action under Administrative Procedures Act for damages, reinstatement, back pay or other relief including attorney's fees  
NEVADA 281.611, et seq. Can not directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten, coerce, command, or influence another state officer or employee or prevent disclosure of violation of state law/regulation, abuse of authority, substantial and specific danger to public health or safety or gross waste of public money Public   Can file a written appeal with department of personnel within 2 years of disclosing; hearing officer can order person to desist and refrain from such action  
618.445 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of health and safety statutes Both   Can file a complaint after first notifying employer and division, within 30 days of the violation for a reinstatement, back pay and lost work benefits  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
NEW HAMPSHIRE 98-E:1, et seq. Can not interfere in any way with employee's right to publicly discuss and give opinions as an individual on all matters concerning the state and its policies, unless its disclosure on confidential and privileged records or communication Public     If willfully and knowingly violates any provision is guilty of a violation
275-E:1, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee reports violation of any state, federal or political subdivision law or rule, or testifies as to a violation or refuses to execute a directive which would result in a violation Both Must first bring allegation to supervisor and allow for a reasonable opportunity to correct unless employee has specific reason to believe notice wouldn't result in prompt remedy of violation Employee must first make a reasonable effort to remedy incident though inhouse grievance procedure, then can get hearing with labor commissioner or his/her designee who can reinstate, order back pay, fringe benefits, and seniority rights as well as injunctive relief Failure to comply with rules shall be a violation for each day of noncompliance
NEW JERSEY 34:19-1, et seq. Can not discharge, suspend, demote, or take other retaliatory action if employee discloses or threatens to disclose an activity, policy, or practice of employer or other, with whom there's a business relationship, testify or object to or refuse to participate if action violates law, rule is fraudulent or criminal or incompatible with clear mandate concerning public health, safety, welfare, or protection of the environment Both Must bring violation to attention of a supervisor and afford a reasonable opportunity to correct, unless violation is known to supervisor or employee reasonably fears physical harm as a result of disclosure and situation is an emergency in nature Can file civil action within one year of incident and receive all remedies available in civil law torts including injunction, reinstatement, reinstate full benefits and seniority rights, back pay and benefits, reasonable court and attorney's fees, punitive damages Civil fine, maximum $1,000 for first violation and maximum of $5,000 for each subsequent violation
NEW MEXICO 50-9-25 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files complaint, testifies, exercises a right or institutes a proceeding related to OHSA Both   Can file complaint with secretary within 30 days of incident and get reinstatement or rehiring with back pay  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
NEW YORK Labor §740 Can not discharge, suspend, demote or take other adverse employment action if employee discloses or threatens to, provides information or testifies, or objects to or refuses to participate in an action that violates law, rule, or regulation or presents a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety Both Must first report violation to supervisor and allow a reasonable opportunity to correct Can file a civil action within one year of incident to get an injunction, reinstatement, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, back pay, and reasonable attorney's and court costs  
NORTH CAROLINA 126-84, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten or otherwise discriminate if employee or their representative reports or is about to report a violation of state or federal law, rule, or regulation, fraud, misappropriation of state resources or substantial and specific danger to public health and safety Public   Can file in superior court for damages, an injunction or other appropriate relief within one year of incident. Remedies include reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights and reasonable attorney's fees. If court finds willful violation, damages 3 times the amount of actual costs and reasonable attorney's fees  
95-240, et seq. Can not discriminate, discharge, suspend, demote or take other adverse action if employee or representative files claim, initiates an action or testifies on worker's compensation, OHSA, and wages or hours Both   Can file complaint with Commission of Labor within 180 days of the incident; after 180 days, employee can request a right-to-sue letter, then can file civil action within 90 days of issuance of the right to sue and get injunction, reinstatement, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, back pay and benefits and reasonable attorney's fees. If court finds willful violation, can get treble damages  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
NORTH DAKOTA 34-11.1- 04, -07,-08 Can not dismiss, withhold salary increase or benefits, transfer, reassign, deny promotion or demote or employee reports in writing a violation of federal or state laws, agency rules or misuse of public resources Public   All available legal remedies Violation is a class B misdemeanor
OHIO 4113.52 Can not take any disciplinary or retaliatory action including withholding pay, benefits, transfer/reassigning, removing/suspending, reducing pay/position or denying a promotion; if employee reports a violation of state or federal statute, ordinance, or regulation of a political subdivision Both Must notify and file a report; employer has 24 hours to correct Can file a civil action for injunction, reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, court and attorney's fees. If employer deliberately violates statute, court can award interest on back pay  
OKLAHOMA 74§840-2.5 No officer or employee of any state agency shall prohibit or take disciplinary action if employee disclosed public information, reports a violation of state or federal law, rule, or policy, mismanagement, gross waste of public funds, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific danger to public health and safety Public   Can file an appeal with Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission within 60 days of disciplinary action to get corrective action Violator can be suspended without pay, demoted or discharged, probation for 6 months. If they knowingly or willfully violate, court will forfeit their position and hold them ineligible for appointment or employment for a minimum of 1 year and maximum of 5 years
40§402, et seq. Can not discharge, discriminate, or take adverse personnel action if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding, or testifies regarding a violation of Occupational Safety and Health Act which causes or is likely to cause death or serious physical harm Public Yes File complaint with commissioner Misdemeanor

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
OREGON 659A.200 et seq. A public employer can not discriminate, dismiss, demote, transfer, reassign, or take other disciplinary action if employee responds to official request to disclose or threatens to disclose a violation of federal or state law, rule or regulation, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific danger to public health and safety or the fact that a recipient of state funds is subject to a felony or misdemeanor or warrant for arrest Public   Can file civil action within 90 days of disciplinary action for injunction or monetary damages  
654.062 Can not bar, discharge, or otherwise discriminate if employee or prospective employee or representative of employee opposes, makes a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies about a violation of law, regulation or standard pertaining to safety and health Both   Can file complaint with commissioner of the Bureau of Labor & Industries within 30 days of violation for reinstatement and back pay as well as other appropriate relief. Can also file civil action  
PENNSYLVANIA 43 §1421, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, retaliate, or otherwise discriminate if employee responds to official request or because employee or representative reports or is about to report a violation or waste Both   Can file a civil action for injunction and/or damage within 180 days after disciplinary action. Court can award reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees Civil fine maximum $500. If violation with intent to discourage disclosure of criminal activity, court can suspend person from public service for a maximum 6 months unless person holds an elected public office

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
RHODE ISLAND 28-50-1, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee or representative reports to a public body or is about to regarding a violation of state or federal law, regulation or rule or because employee responds to an official request Both   Can file a civil action within 3 years of the violation for an injunction and/or actual damages including reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, and attorney's fees  
SOUTH CAROLINA 8-27-10, et seq. Can not dismiss, suspend, demote, or decrease compensation if employee files a report for violation of federal or state statute, laws, regulations, ordinances, substantial abuse, misuse, or loss of substantial public funds or resources Public   If employee report results in saving of public funds, 25% of estimated net savings from first year implementation or a maximum of $2,000 will be rewarded employee; once employee exhausted all available grievance or other administrative remedies, can file a nonjury civil action within 1 year of reporting or exhaustion of all available grievance, judicial or administrative remedies to get reinstatement, back pay, actual damages (maximum $15,000), reasonable attorney's fees (maximum $10,000 for trial and $5,000 for appeal)  
41-15-510, 520 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding statutes, rules, or regulations regarding occupational safety and health Both   Can file complaint with commission of labor within 30 days of the violation for reinstatement, back pay and other appropriate relief  
SOUTH DAKOTA 3-6-26 & 27; 3-6A- 52. Can not deprive of freedom of speech to report violation of state law or file a suggestion. Public   Can file a grievance with the career service commission  

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
SOUTH DAKOTA (cont.) 60-11-17.1; 60-12-21 Can not discharge, discriminate, or engage in any economic or otherwise reprisal if employee makes a complaint about violation of wage rules or any other complaint or testimony; can not threaten to terminate or take other retaliatory action if employee reports or is about to report sex discrimination in wages Private      
TENNESSEE 50-1-304 Can not discharge or terminate if employee refuses to participate in or refuses to remain silent about violation of criminal or civil code, US laws, or neglect to protect public health, safety or welfare Public   Can sue employer for retaliatory discharge, get damages, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs  
50-3-106; 50-3-409 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding, or testifies regarding a violation of any statute or regarding occupational safety and health Both   Can file a complaint with Commission of Labor within 30 days of the violation for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief  
TEXAS Gov. 554.001 et seq. Can not suspend, terminate or take other adverse personnel action if employee reports a violation of law by employer or other employee Public   Must report to appropriate law enforcement authority, then exhaust grievance or appeal process before suing no later than 90th day after violation, for injunction, actual damages, court costs and reasonable attorney fees. May also get reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits, seniority rights, and set maximum on compensatory damages Supervisor, maximum $15,000 fine

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
UTAH 67-21-1, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee reports, testifies or objects/refuses to carry out directive that violates law, rule, or regulation of state, US or political subdivision or shows waste of public funds, property or manpower Public   Can file civil action within 180 days of violation for injunction or actual damages and court and attorney's fees. In addition court can award reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights Violator subject to civil fine, maximum $500
VERMONT 21 §231 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of occupational, health and safety code Both   Can file a complaint with commission within 30 days of violation to get reinstatement with back pay as well as other relief  
VIRGINIA 40.1- 51.2:1 & 51.2:2 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files, testifies, or otherwise acts to exercise rights under safety and health statute Private Yes in conciliation after complaint filed and investigation indicates a violation Can file complaint with commissioner within 60 days of violation for reinstatement and back pay. If commissioner refuses to issue a charge, employee can file in circuit court for appropriate relief  
WASHINGTON 42.40.010, et seq. 49.60.210; 42.41.010, et seq. Can not intimidate, threaten, coerce, command, influence, or attempt the above if employee discloses to auditor information of improper government action or identifies rules warranting review or provides information unless disclosing is prohibited by law Public   File complaint with governing body of the local government within 30 days of violation, then can request a hearing to get reinstatement, back pay, injunctive relief, and costs and attorney's fees Retaliator subject to maximum $3,000 penalty and suspension or dismissal

Table 21: Whistleblower Statutes—Continued

State Code Section Prohibited Activity Public or Private Employees Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Remedies Penalties
WEST VIRGINIA 6C-1-1, et seq. Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate if employee or representative reports or testifies as to a violation of state or federal statute or regulation, or ordinance of political subdivision or regulation or code of conduct or ethics designed to protect public from employer waste Public   Can file civil action within 180 days of violation for reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, court and attorney's fees Civil fine maximum $500 and if violator holds a public office by election or appointment and committed violation with intent to discourage disclosure: suspension maximum 6 months
21-3A-13 Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of the occupational safety and health act Public   Can file complaint with commissioner within 30 days for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief  
WISCONSIN 230.80, et seq. Can not initiate, administer, or threaten to take retaliatory action if employee discloses violation of state or federal law, rule, or regulation, mismanagement or abuse of authority, substantial waste of public funds or a danger to public health or safety Public Commission will conduct conciliation after complaint filed and investigation indicates a violation Can file complaint with state employment relation commission within 60 days of retaliation. The commission can award reinstatement, back pay, expungement of adverse material on employee's file, and attorney's fees If respondent fails to comply with commission order, minimum $10, maximum $100 for every day of failure
WYOMING 27-11- 109(e) Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files a notice of complaint or institutes a proceeding or testifies as to a violation of the occupational health and safety statutes Both      
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about 9 years ago

I saw one of my coworkers standing on a case of paper towels, which is very dangerous. I warned her of the danger. She said if I reported this "O my God your bike is going to be f---ed up!".

Some time later, both tires were slashed.