Pennsylvania Whistleblower Laws

A whistleblower is an employee who alerts the proper authorities and/or news outlets that their employer is doing something illegal or otherwise against the public trust. Usually, whistleblower cases arise in the environmental and financial industries. Because the reporting of violations often results in some type of penalty against the employer (fees, sanctions, and/or remediation costs), employees may be hesitant to report for fear of retaliation -- when an employer takes one or more of the following actions against a reporting employee:

  • Termination (firing);
  • Suspension;
  • Withholding of pay or benefits;
  • Cutting down an employee’s hours;
  • Discrimination;
  • Threatening; and/or
  • Harassment.

Since it is in the best interests of the community that employees feel comfortable reporting violations, the federal government and individual states have enacted whistleblower laws which are intended to offer employees some level of protection. Pennsylvania whistleblower laws protect employees of both public and private organizations, and allow victims of retaliation to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages (some states only protect public employees).

The basics of Pennsylvania whistleblower laws are listed in the chart below. See Whistleblower Retaliation Could Land You in Trouble for a small business perspective.

Code Section

43 §1421, et seq.

Prohibited Employer Activity

Can not discharge, threaten, retaliate, or otherwise discriminate if employee responds to official request or because employee or representative reports or is about to report a violation or waste

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Both

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

Can file a civil action for injunction and/or damage within 180 days after disciplinary action. Court can award reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees

Penalties

Civil fine maximum $500. If violation with intent to discourage disclosure of criminal activity, court can suspend person from public service for a maximum 6 months unless person holds an elected public office

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

More Information

Click on the links below to find additional information on Pennsylvania’s whistleblower laws. You can also read more about the topic, in general, by visiting FindLaw’s section on whistleblowers. Finally, if you believe you have a retaliation claim, or you are considering reporting a violation, you may want to contact a local Pennsylvania employment law attorney.

Pennsylvania Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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