Virginia 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.

Importance Of Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers can bring about reform and accountability, often by exposing illegal activity. Because employers can face jail time and civil fines once their actions are exposed by whistleblowers, many offenders want to stop whistleblowing from happening. Targets of whistleblowers frequently retaliate to silence, harass, or discredit them.

Therefore, whistleblower laws are intended to encourage employees to speak out when they know about a particular violation that betrays the public trust, such as a chemical spill or unfair treatment of workers.

Virginia Whistleblower Laws

Virginia whistleblower law protects the employees of private employers, allowing them to file a complaint with the commissioner.

Examples of Whistleblowing Activities

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

How Do I File A Whistleblower Or Retaliation Claim In Virginia?

Generally, an employee may file a wrongful discharge lawsuit in an appropriate court. The lawsuit must be filed within two (2) years of the retaliatory action. If you believe you have a claim, you should contact an employment law attorney.

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 Virginia'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 40.1- 51.2:1 & 51.2:2
Prohibited Employer Activity Can not discharge or discriminate if employee files, testifies, or otherwise acts to exercise rights under safety and health statute
Protection for Public or Private Employees? Private
Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Yes in conciliation after complaint filed and investigation indicates a violation
Remedies Can file complaint with commissioner within 60 days of violation for reinstatement and back pay. If commissioner refuses to issue a charge, employee can file in circuit court for appropriate relief
Penalties -

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

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Virginia Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

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