Washington Whistleblower Laws

A whistleblower is an employee who "blows the whistle," or reports an employer's illegal or immoral activity to the proper authorities. So-called whistleblower laws, therefore, are meant to protect whistleblowers from being retaliated against.

What Activities Are Considered "Retaliation?"

Retaliation is a negative action taken against an employee by his/her employer because the employee filed a whistleblower complaint. Whistleblower retaliation may include demotion, reduction in assignments or work hours, denial of adequate staff to complete job duties, suspension, and denial of employment-just to name a few.

Washington Whistleblower Laws

Washington whistleblower laws only protect public employees (such as those working for the state). Anyone in violation of the law is subject to a maximum $5,000 civil penalty.

Who Can Report Improper Governmental Actions?

Any current state employee may report possible improper governmental actions through the Whistleblower Program. This includes temporary, classified, and exempt civil service employees, and elected officials in all branches of state government.

Does A Whistleblower Have Identify Himself Or Herself?

No, you may file your report anonymously. However, including your name and phone number enables a regulating agency to contact you to gather additional information that may be necessary for a thorough investigation. Under state law, the whistleblower's name is confidential.

Learn more about Washington's whistleblower laws below, with links to additional articles and resources. See Whistleblower Retaliation Could Land You in Trouble in FindLaw's Small Business section to learn more.

Code Section 42.40.010, et seq. 49.60.210; 42.41.010, et seq.
Prohibited Employer Activity Can not intimidate, threaten, coerce, command, influence, or attempt the above if employee discloses to auditor information of improper government action or identifies rules warranting review or provides information unless disclosing is prohibited by law
Protection for Public or Private Employees? Public
Opportunity for Employer to Correct? -
Remedies File complaint with governing body of the local government within 30 days of violation, then can request a hearing to get reinstatement, back pay, injunctive relief, and costs and attorney's fees
Penalties Retaliator subject to maximum $5,000 penalty and suspension or dismissal

Note: If you believe that you are being unlawfully targeted at your work, you will probably have many questions. State whistleblower laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington whistleblower attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Washington Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

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