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Kentucky Whistleblower Laws

Maybe we don’t all love our bosses, but most of us wouldn’t expect our employers to be involved in some unethical or even illegal business practices. But if we find out they are, do we report it to the authorities and risk getting fired? Lucky for those of us in the Bluegrass State, there are state laws that help protect employees who come forward with information about fraud or illegal conduct in the workplace. Here's an introduction to “whistleblower” laws in Kentucky.

Whistleblower Laws

State "whistleblower" laws are statutes that forbid employers from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle unethical, dangerous, or illegal business practices. The idea is to shield employees from demotion or firing if they report important information.

Kentucky Whistle Blower Statutes

The table below highlights the specifics of Kentucky’s whistleblower laws.

Code Section

Kentucky Revised Statutes 338.121: Discrimination Against Employee Prohibited;

Kentucky Revised Statutes 338.991: Occupational Safety Penalties

Prohibited Employer Activity

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

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Both

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

File a complaint with commissioner for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief

Penalties

If willfully or repeatedly violates, minimum $5,000 and maximum $70,000 per violation; otherwise civil penalty, maximum $10,000 per violation

 

Code Section

Kentucky Revised Statutes 61.101, et seq.: Reprisal Against Public Employee for Disclosure of Violations of Law Prohibited

Prohibited Employer Activity

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

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Public

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

Civil action for injuries or punitive damages within 90 days after violation

Penalties

-

While Kentucky’s whistleblower laws only cover public employees at the state level, there are federal protections that may apply to your case. The federal False Claims Act allows whistleblowers who believe their company has defrauded the government to file what are known as “qui tam actions” and shields them from employer retaliation. Also, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protects whistleblowers in cases of securities, shareholder, and other kinds of fraud.

Kentucky Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

Employment laws can be challenging, especially where state and federal law intersect. You can contact a Kentucky whistleblower attorney in your area if you would like legal advice regarding a corporate malfeasance or employment matter. And you can visit FindLaw’s Employment Law section for additional articles and information on this topic.

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