A whistleblower is a person who sees something illegal or unethical occurring at his or her work and makes the courageous decision to report that activity to the proper authorities. Federal and state laws were created to protect whistleblowers for being fired or disciplined at work for “doing the right thing.”
One reason whistleblowers feel torn is that by discovering their employer has violated a law, they may be held accountable as participating in the crime or exposed to personal liability for the crime if they do nothing. Employees may also feel a sense of loyalty to their employers.
Sometimes, an employee is retaliated against for making a report to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) about unsafe working conditions. To encourage workers to make complaints to OSHA despite this risk, legal protection against retaliation was provided for whistleblowers in several acts.
The following chart details the main whistleblower laws in Connecticut.
|Code Section||Connecticut General Statutes Sections
|Prohibited Employer Activity||Employers can’t fire, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee because he or she or his or her representative reports a violation or suspected violation or requested an investigation, hearing, or inquiry.
Also, if a government employee reports to a public body concerning unethical practices, mismanagement, or abuse of authority, he or she can’t be fired, disciplined, or otherwise penalized, unless the employee knows the report is false.
Companies that work in securities, covered by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), can’t fire, suspend, or discriminate against an employee who lawfully provides information or testifying about a securities violation or fraud on the shareholders, whether brought by the federal or state government or Congress.
Tax-exempt charitable, scientific, cultural, or educational organizations or foundations are also prohibited from threatening or taking action against an employee who reports corruption or violation of state laws, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or danger to the public.
Blacklisting, or causing a worker to not get work or be hired because of something they did or are perceived as, is prohibited in Connecticut. This was famous in the 1950s McCarthyism era of Hollywood and government workers accused of being communist.
|What Employees are Protected?||The various whistleblower laws in Connecticut cover government, securities, other private sector, and non-profit employees.|
|Remedies||If the employer violates these laws, an employee can, after exhausting all available administrative remedies, bring a civil lawsuit against the employer within 90 days of the final administrative decision or the violation for reinstatement, back pay, to reestablish benefits (health, retirement, etc.), court costs, and attorney's fees.
If a government job, the civil servant transmits the facts and information to the auditors of public accounts. If discriminating against, the employee can file claim within 30 days of incident with the employee review board or in accordance with collective bargaining contract. A human rights referee, who acts as an independent hearing officer, will be assigned to the case and come to a decision. That decision can be appealed.
A whistleblower at a securities company can sue in Superior Court for damages and injunctive relief not more than one year after the knowing about the specific incident that gave rise to the claim.
|Penalties||Typically, the penalty to the employee is paying money for back pay and other damages to the wronged employee, as well as any other costs assessed to them.
A person or company who blacklists a worker can be fined $50 to $200. This fine may be low because the statute hasn’t been modernized to account for inflation.
If you “blew the whistle” on your boss or company and were retaliated against, you should consult with a lawyer who has experience representing whistleblowers, to figure out what your options are. Be sure to act quickly as there are short time limits on many of these claims.
Note: State laws are revised constantly, it’s important to conduct your own legal research or contact a lawyer to verify these laws.
Research the Law
Contact a qualified attorney.