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. Vermont whistleblower law protects employees from wrongful discharge through both state statutes and common law.
Reporting Fraud: State Government Employee Whistleblower Protection
The State of Vermont protects State employees who make good faith reports of “waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violations of law, or a threat to the health of employees, the public, or persons under the care of the state …” Vermont also protects employees who refuse to violate an illegal order, when an employee timely asserts a good faith, reasonable belief that the order violates the law.
In addition, Vermont protects state employees who talk to Legislators or testify before the General Assembly, provided employees do not disclose confidential information and clearly state they are not speaking on the State’s behalf.
Vermont law also protects certain private employee whistleblowers and others from retaliation for protected activities. For example, employees in the hospital or nursing home industry enjoy special whistleblower status under Vermont law.
How Do I File a Whistleblower Claim?
An employee may file a wrongful discharge lawsuit in an appropriate court. The lawsuit must be filed within six (6) years of the retaliatory action. However, a shorter statute of limitations period of three (3) years may apply in some cases. This statute of limitation period applies to lawsuits involving injuries to the person., so if you believe you have a claim, you should contact a lawyer without delay.
An employee may file a wrongful discharge lawsuit in an appropriate court. A wrongfully discharged employee may recover compensatory and punitive damages, appropriate equitable relief (such as reinstatement), and attorney fees.
Occupational Safety and Health
An employee may file a complaint with the Vermont Occupational Safety & Health Administration (VOSHA) (a division of the Vermont Department of Labor & Industry). The complaint must be filed within 30 days of the retaliatory action. VOSHA will investigate the claim and may pursue legal action on your behalf.
In addition to filing a complaint with VOSHA, an employee also has the option of filing a lawsuit in an appropriate court. An employee can thus choose to file a lawsuit, file a complaint with VOSHA, or pursue both options at the same time. If you choose to file a lawsuit, you should contact a lawyer.
The main provisions of Vermont'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||3 V.S.A. §§ 971-978, 21 §231|
|Prohibited Employer Activity||Cannot discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of occupational, health and safety code|
|Protection for Public or Private Employees?||Both|
|Opportunity for Employer to Correct?||N/A|
Can file a complaint with commission within 30 days of violation to get reinstatement with back pay as well as other relief
Note: Vermont state laws are constantly changing -- contact a Vermont whistleblower attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Vermont Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.