Montana Whistleblower Laws

A "whistleblower" is someone who reports environmental or ethical violations by a company or organization, sometimes at the risk of being retaliated against. Whistleblowers play an extremely important role in uncovering and correcting governmental waste, environmental dangers, public safety violations, conspiracies, fraud , and deceit.

Montana Whistleblower Laws

Montana whistleblower law protects employees under the "Wrongful Discharge From Employment Act " (WDEA). Montana enacted the WDEA to protect employees from wrongful discharges.

When is a Discharge Considered "Wrongful" in Montana?

In Montana, a discharge is considered "wrongful" if one of the following is true:

  • The discharge was in retaliation for the employee's refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy (i.e. whistleblowing);
  • The discharge was not for good cause, provided that the employee completed the probationary period of employment;
  • The employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy.

What Provision of WDEA Protects Whistleblowers?

In Montana, whistleblowers are specifically protected under the first provision. As used in WDEA, public policy means "a policy in effect at the time of the discharge concerning the public health, safety, or welfare established by constitutional provision, statute, or administrative rule." Moreover, a whistleblower's suspicion does not need to turn out to be factually correct (i.e. the employer does not need to actually violate public policy), but rather, the employee must have a good faith belief that the employer's conduct violated public policy.

More Examples of Whistleblowing Activities

  • Medical billing fraud
  • Money laundering or embezzlement  
  • Violations of environmental laws
  • Misreporting affirmative action hiring
  • Financial and accounting irregularities
  • Misuse of company funds
  • Acceptance of kickbacks or other benefits and perks from suppliers

How Do I File a Whistleblower or Retaliation Claim in Montana?

Generally an employee must first exhaust all of an employer's internal grievance procedures before filing a lawsuit. If the matter cannot be resolved through that avenue within 90 days, an employee may file a lawsuit in an appropriate court. The lawsuit must be filed within one (1) year of the discharge. If you believe you have a claim, you should seek legal help immediately.

Keep in mind, even though whistleblower statutes only cover workplace-related retaliation, provisions in non-whistleblower laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 now protect against out-of-work retaliation.

The main provisions of Montana's whistleblower laws are listed below. See Whistleblower Retaliation Could Land You in Trouble in FindLaw's Small Business section to learn more.

Code Section 39-2-901, et seq.
Prohibited Employer Activity Can not discharge or otherwise terminate employee in retaliation if employee refused to violate constitutional provision, statute or administrative rule regarding public health, safety, or welfare or reports a violation of the same.
Protection for Public or Private Employees? Both
Opportunity for Employer to Correct? N/A
Remedies

Must first exhaust internal procedures for appealing discharge, but after 90 days or exhaustion, whichever comes first, can file an action (within 1 year of discharge) to get back pay and fringe benefits (for a maximum 4 years, less interim earnings) and punitive damages if employer engaged in fraud or malice in discharging.

There is no right under any legal theory to damages for wrongful discharge under this part for pain and suffering, emotional distress, compensatory damages, punitive damages, or any other form of damages

Penalties N/A

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Montana whistleblower attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Montana Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.