Employees should always be able to report an instance of illegal behavior that is taking place in their workplace. However, they may be reluctant to do so, especially if they believe that they may be fired or otherwise punished by their employer as a result.
This is the reason for whistleblower laws. A whistleblower is an employee who takes action to report what they suspect to be illegal, dangerous or unethical business practices. Therefore, whistleblower laws are designed to protect workers when they make complaints. This encourages reporting and prevents the unjust treatment of employees.
If you believe that you have been punished in West Virginia as a result of making a complaint against your employer, you may be able to take action and file a civil action. First, you should take the time to better understand the law.
The Whistleblower Protection Act
The Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 1989 to improve protections for federal employees. The law covers current federal employees, former federal employees, and applicants for federal employment.
Laws in place in West Virginia
While the Whistleblower Protection Act is in place federally, there are other laws in place on a state level to protect workers.
In West Virginia, protections are in place for public employees. Employers are prohibited from discharging, threatening, discriminating against or retaliating against an employee because they have made a complaint. In this context, a complaint could count as a report of a violation, or testifying in relation to a reported violation.
What are the time limits for taking action?
If you are a public employee and you believe that you have been retaliated against because you made a complaint or otherwise acted as a whistleblower, you should file a civil action within 180 days of the violation. By doing so, you will be able to gain full back pay, full fringe benefits, actual damages and reinstatement of your position if you are successful.
Understanding the law when it comes whistleblower rights can be difficult. If you believe that you have been retaliated against in your workplace, make sure that you take immediate action. Failing to act within an appropriate time frame may mean that you will be unable to gain back the damages you deserve.