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House Bill 2006 - Enhanced Penalties for Retaliation Against Whistle-blowers

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West Virginia has enacted legislation designed to protect "whistle-blower" employees of the State and its political subdivisions from retaliation and allows such an employee to bring a civil action for redress if the State or a political subdivision discharges, threatens or otherwise discriminates or retaliates against an employee because the employee makes a good faith report to the employer or an appropriate authority of instances of wrongdoing or waste by a governmental entity.

Under the current law, an employer or a person acting with the authority of the employer, is subject to a $500 civil fine for engaging in such action against a "whistle-blower." House Bill 2006 would amend the potential penalties against an employer who violates W.Va. Code §6C-1-6 to increase the civil penalty for such a violation to $5,000.00. If enacted, House Bill 2006 would also allow for the discipline of a such an employee, up to and including termination, if a court determines that an employer violated the whistle-blower law with the intent to discourage the disclosure of information.

The State and its political subdivisions certainly have an interest in employees acting responsibly to report unlawful actions or waste committed by a governmental entity. This bill would further encourage governmental employees to make reports of unlawful actions by governmental entities and enhances the deterrence aspect of W.Va. §6C-1-6 by increasing the penalties on employers and co-employees who discourage such reporting.

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