Wisconsin Whistleblower Laws

We all want to believe our employers are upstanding and honest businesses. But what happens if you find out that your company might have engaged in some shady business practices? The worry that reporting on company misconduct could get you fired can put in you in a pretty awkward position. Luckily, the Badger State has laws on the books that can protect employees who report fraud or illegal conduct in the workplace. This is a quick introduction to “whistleblower” laws in Wisconsin.

Whistleblower Laws

Almost all states have some regulations that prohibit an employer from retaliating (including demoting or firing) an employee who reports illegal, dangerous, or otherwise unethical acts. Commonly referred to as "whistleblower" laws, they are intended to protect employees who otherwise might be too afraid of losing their jobs to come forward with important information. Under Wisconsin’s whistleblower laws, both public and private employees are protected from retaliation.

Wisconsin Whistle Blower Statutes

Some of Wisconsin's whistleblower laws are highlighted in the following table.

Code Section

230.80, et seq.

Prohibited Employer Activity

Cannot initiate, administer, or threaten to take retaliatory action if employee discloses violation of state or federal law, rule, or regulation, mismanagement or abuse of authority, substantial waste of public funds or a danger to public health or safety

Protection for Public or Private Employees?

Public

Opportunity for Employer to Correct?

Commission will conduct conciliation after complaint filed and investigation indicates a violation

Remedies

Can file complaint with state employment relation commission within 60 days of retaliation. The commission can award reinstatement, back pay, expungement of adverse material on employee's file, and attorney's fees

Penalties

If respondent fails to comply with commission order, minimum $10, maximum $100 for every day of failure

While Wisconsin’s whistleblower laws cover employees at a state level, the federal government also has protections for whistleblowers who believe their company has defrauded the government. Legally known as “qui tam actions,” the federal False Claims Act bars employers from taking any action against employees who file a claim that their employer defrauded the government. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 also protects whistleblowers in cases of securities, shareholder, and other kinds of fraud.

Wisconsin Whistleblower Laws: Related Resources

State employment laws are complex and can be confusing. You can visit FindLaw’s Employment Law section for more introductory materials and resources on this topic. You can also contact a Wisconsin whistleblower attorney if you would like legal assistance with a corporate malfeasance case.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.