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Rhode Island Whistleblower Laws

In the context of employment, to "blow the whistle" is to contact the proper authorities about your employer's misuse of funds, pollution, fraud, or some other illegal or unconscionable act. All states have "whistleblower" laws to protect employees who blow the whistle from being terminated or otherwise retaliated against for their actions. Virtually all state whistleblower laws protect public sector employees, but many states also provide some protections for private sector employees as well. Employees who blow the whistle in good faith are protected by these laws, even if the alleged illegal activity is not confirmed by the authorities.

Rhode Island Whistleblower Protections at a Glance

See the following charts to learn more about Rhode Island's whistleblower protections. See FindLaw's Whistleblowers section for more articles and resources.

Code Section 28-50-1, et seq.
Prohibited Employer Activity Can not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate if employee or representative reports to a public body or is about to regarding a violation of state or federal law, regulation or rule or because employee responds to an official request
Employee Acts Protected by Statute
  1. Employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, reports or is about to report to a public body, verbally or in writing, a violation which the employee knows or reasonably believes has occurred or is about to occur, of a law or regulation or rule promulgated under the law of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States, unless the employee knows or has reason to know that the report is false.
  2. Employee is requested by a public body to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry held by that public body, or a court action.
  3. Employee refuses to violate or assist in violating federal, state or local law, rule or regulation.
  4. Employee reports to the employer or supervisor a violation, which the employee knows or reasonably believes has occurred or is about to occur, of a law or regulation or rule promulgated under the laws of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States, unless the employee knows or has reason to know that the report is false. Provided, that if the report is verbally made, the employee must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the report was made.
Protection for Public or Private Employees? Both
Opportunity for Employer to Correct? -
Remedies Can file a civil action within 3 years of the violation for an injunction and/or actual damages including reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, and attorney's fees
Penalties -

Note: State laws can change at any time through the decisions of higher courts, the enactment of newly signed legislation, and other means. You should contact a Rhode Island employment law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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