West Virginia Whistleblower Laws

Most of us work hard for our employers and we trust they are acting ethically and legally. Even if we found out otherwise, we might be too scared of being fired to say anything. Fortunately, there are laws in the Mountain State that protect employees who report fraud or illegal conduct in the workplace. Here is a quick introduction to “whistleblower” laws in West Virginia.

Whistleblower Laws

State "whistleblower" laws protect employees who reports illegal, dangerous, or unethical business practices by prohibiting an employer from firing, demoting, or otherwise retaliating against the employee. The scope of legal protections for whistleblowers may be increased if the employer’s bad behavior includes fraud against a state or federal government.

West Virginia Whistle Blower Statutes

The details of West Virginia’s whistleblower laws are listed below.

Code Section

West Virginia Code 6C-1-1, et seq.: Whistle-blower Law

Prohibited Employer Activity

Cannot discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate if employee or representative reports or testifies as to a violation of state or federal statute or regulation, or ordinance of political subdivision or regulation or code of conduct or ethics designed to protect public from employer waste

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Public

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

Can file civil action within 180 days of violation for reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, court and attorney's fees

Penalties

Civil fine maximum $500 and if violator holds a public office by election or appointment and committed violation with intent to discourage disclosure: suspension maximum 6 months

Code Section

West Virginia Code 21-3A-13: Discrimination Against Employee Filing Complaint

Prohibited Employer Activity

Cannot discharge or discriminate if employee files a complaint, institutes a proceeding or testifies regarding a violation of the occupational safety and health act

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Public

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

-

Remedies

Can file complaint with commissioner within 30 days for reinstatement, back pay, and other appropriate relief

Penalties

-

West Virginia’s whistleblower statute only applies primarily to public employees and employees reporting workplace safety violations. There are additional federal protections that apply to whistleblowers who believe their company has defrauded the government. Employees may report fraud against the government by filing what are known as “qui tam actions” under the federal False Claims Act and remain defended from employer retaliation. And the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protects whistleblowers in cases of securities, shareholder, and other kinds of fraud.

More Resources for West Virginia Whistleblower Laws

State and federal employment laws can be confusing. FindLaw’s section on Employment Law can provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with a West Virginia whistleblower attorney in your area if you would like legal help regarding an employment matter.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.