OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXTENSION OF WHISTLE-BLOWER PROTECTIONS TO AN EMPLOYEE WHO REPORTS A SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF LAW TO THE EMPLOYEE'S SUPERVISOR OR MANAGER.
Existing law prohibits a private or public sector employer from discharging, disciplining, or otherwise penalizing an employee for (1) reporting suspected illegal conduct to a public body or (2) participating in an investigation or similar proceeding on request of a public body (see BACKGROUND). The prohibition also applies if someone makes such a report on an employee's behalf.
This bill extends these provisions to employees who (1) make such reports to their supervisors or managers (either directly or through a third party) or (2) participate in the employer's or a public body's investigation or similar proceeding on request of a supervisor or manager or the public body. A “supervisor” or “manager” is someone who (1) directs or controls an employee's daily activities or (2) is at least partly responsible for decisions on employee compensation or other material terms and conditions of employment.
The bill also extends the time an employee has to bring a civil action against the employer under this law and adds to the possible remedies available to aggrieved employees in such a lawsuit.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016
LAWSUITS CHALLENGING EMPLOYER RETALIATION
By law, an employee penalized in violation of these provisions may bring a civil action against the employer after exhausting all available administrative remedies. Under current law, the employee must file the case within 90 days of the violation or final administrative decision, whichever is later. The bill extends this to 180 days.
Current law allows the court to (1) order the employer to reinstate the employee, pay back wages, and reestablish benefits and (2) award the prevailing party costs and reasonable attorney's fees. The bill also allows the court to order (1) noneconomic damages, (2) the removal of any discipline or penalty imposed on the employee, and (3) future economic damages due to a wage reduction if reinstatement of the employee's previous job is not feasible or practicable.
By law, employers may dismiss or discipline employees found to have knowingly made a false report of illegal conduct.
Prohibition on Retaliation for Whistleblowing
Under existing law, employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining, or otherwise penalizing an employee because the employee or someone acting on his or her behalf reports, to a public body, a violation or suspected violation of federal or state law or regulation, or a municipal ordinance or regulation. Employers are also prohibited from penalizing the employee because a public body requests him or her to participate in one of its investigations, hearings or inquiries, or a court action.
Other provisions of this law prohibit (1) an employer from penalizing an employee for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect and (2) municipal employers from penalizing an employee because he or she reported the employer's unethical practices, mismanagement, or abuse of authority to a public body. (The bill does not extend these other provisions to reports made to supervisors or managers.)