Hawaii Whistleblower Laws

Maybe we don’t love our bosses all the time, but we also don’t think they’re acting unethically or illegally. So what should we do if we find out that our employer is breaking the law? Alert the authorities to the misconduct and risk losing our jobs over it?

Fortunately, there are legal protections for employees who come forward about fraud or illegal conduct in the workplace. This is a quick introduction to “whistleblower” laws in Hawaii.

Whistleblower Laws

State "whistleblower" laws can vary, but they generally prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who reports illegal, dangerous, or unethical business practices. The intent of these statutes is to encourage employees to go public with important information by shielding them from firing, demotion, or other reprisals. And there may be added whistleblower protections if the employer’s bad behavior includes fraud or malfeasance against a state or federal government.

Hawaii Whistle Blower Statutes

Hawaii’s whistleblower laws are listed below.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes 378-61, et seq.: Whistleblowers’ Protection Act

Prohibited Employer Activity

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

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Both

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

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

Penalties

Person: fine, minimum $500, maximum $5,000 for each violation

While some whistleblower statutes only apply to public employees, Hawaii’s law covers all employees who report a suspected violation. And as noted above, there are federal protections that may apply to whistleblowers who believe their company has defrauded the government under the federal False Claims Act. Employees are allowed to file what are known as “qui tam actions” that report fraud against the government and remain safe from employer retaliation. And the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protects whistleblowers in cases of securities, shareholder, and other kinds of fraud.

More Resources for Whistleblower Laws in Hawaii

State and federal employment laws are not the easiest to understand. You can consult with an experienced Hawaii whistleblower attorney in your area if you would like legal help with an employment matter. And FindLaw’s section on Employment Law can provide you with further reading and resources on this topic.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.