West Virginia Employment Law Attorney Protecting Whistleblowers from Retaliation
The Bayless Law Firm is committed to protecting the rights of West Virginia workers to be free from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The government recognizes that employees must be able to speak out against discrimination or other illegal activity that they are subjected to or witness to. The law therefore provides ways for workers to report misconduct and protects these whistleblowers from retaliation by their employer. As part of our employment law practice, the Bayless Law Firm advises and represents workers who step forward as whistleblowers. As an experienced West Virginia employment law attorney, Kay Bayless is well-versed in the laws and public policy governing whistleblowers and retaliation in the public sector and the private sector, including the mining industry.
Public Sector Employee Whistleblowers
West Virginia Code section 6C-1 prohibits employers from firing, threatening or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against employees who make a good faith report about wrongdoing or waste to their employer or to an appropriate authority. Workers are also protected from retaliation for participating in an investigation, hearing or inquiry held by an appropriate authority or in a court action. Unlawful retaliation can include changing the employee’s compensation, location, privileges or any other terms or conditions of employment.
This law allows an employee to sue the employer for a whistleblower reprisal and recover compensation for damages, reinstatement of employment with fringe benefits and seniority, back pay, or other appropriate damages. The burden is on the employee to prove a good faith whistleblower activity, while the employer may try to convince the court that the employment action was taken against the employee for some legitimate reason.
Private Sector Workers and Retaliatory Discharge
All employees are covered by West Virginia Code 5-11-9, which prohibits reprisals or discrimination for employees who opposed any act of unlawful discrimination or who filed a complaint, testified or assisted in a legal proceeding regarding unlawful discrimination. Employers who terminate an employee in violation of public policy may be liable for wrongful discharge.
Special Rules for Miners Who Blow the Whistle
Under West Virginia Code 22A-1-22, mining employers cannot discharge or discriminate against any miner for notifying the director of the Miners’ Health, Safety and Training Division or an operator of any alleged violation or danger. Miners are protected from retaliation for filing any proceeding under the Miners’ Health, Safety and Training Act or for testifying in any proceeding under the Act. Recourse includes applying to the appeals board for a review of the employment action. We can represent you at this hearing to help you make your best case before the board.
Experienced West Virginia Employment Lawyer for Whistleblower Retaliation
If you have been fired, retaliated against or discriminated against in any way because you engaged in lawful, protected activity, such as reporting health and safety violations or illegal activity to your employer or a government agency, contact the Bayless Law Firm in Princeton for a free consultation with an experienced West Virginia employment law attorney.