2012 Whistleblower Legislation

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Whistleblowers are employees, former employees or citizens who report illegal activity or fraud, waste or abuse by an employer, government or organization. Employees may risk retaliation for making such reports, giving rise to state and federal protections for whistleblowers.

Twenty-one states considered legislation related to whistleblowing or employment retaliation during the 2012 legislative session. Laws were enacted in 12 states.

In addition to the state laws protecting workers who report illegal actions by employers, there are numerous federal laws with whistleblower protections that apply to public and private employers. An overview of federal provisions can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website.


2012 Introduced and Enacted Legislation on Whistleblowing

ARIZONA
AZ H 2784 Patterson (I)
Title: Public Employees Disclosure Protection
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Relates to public employees and disclosure protection. It prohibits reprisal against an employee who participates in a court action, an investigation, a hearing or an inquiry that is held by a public body on a matter of public concern, communicates the findings of a scientific report that the employee reasonable believes to be truthful and accurate, including reports to a governmental body or law enforcement official.
02/08/2012 Additionally referred to House Committee on Rules.
CALIFORNIA
CA A 1197 Hill (D)
Title: Whistleblower Protection
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Requires the Public Utilities Commission to establish a comprehensive whistleblower protection program to protect public utility employees, former employees, and third-party contractors and subcontractors from retaliation for bring information to the commission or other public entities regarding safety issues.
02/01/2012 From Committee: Filed with the Chief Clerk pursuant to JR 56.
 
CA A 1844 Campos (D)
Title: Employer Use of Social Media
Status: Enacted
Summary: Prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant for employment to disclose a user name or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media to access personal social media in the presence of the employer, or to divulge any personal social media. Prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by a violating employer.
09/27/2012 Signed by Governor. Chaptered by Secretary of State. Chapter No. 618
 
CA A 2492 Blumenfield (D)
Title: The False Claims Act
Status: Enacted
Summary: Regards a false claim for money, property or services. It increases the civil penalty for each violation. Authorizes a court to award a person who initiated a report of a violation, a share of the proceeds of the action. Provides relief to employees discharged, demoted, suspended or in any other manner discriminated against.
09/27/2012 Signed by Governor. Chaptered by Secretary of State. Chapter No. 647
 
CA S 1308 Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee
Title: State Human Resources Functions
Status: Enacted
Summary: Creates the Department of Human Resources. It vests the department with the duties, purposes, responsibilities and jurisdiction exercised by the State Personnel Board. Abolishes the Department of Personnel Administration. Eliminates certain functions of the board relating to investigating and hearing complaints of discrimination in the civil service. Authorizes the department to establish disciplinary criteria applicable to adverse actions. Relates to disciplinary proceedings.
09/27/2012 Signed by Governor. Chaptered by Secretary of State. Chapter No. 665
 
GEORGIA
GA H 822 Lindsey (R)
Title: Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act
Status: Enacted
Summary: Enacts the State Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act. It revises the State False Medicaid Claims Act to change the elements of false or fraudulent Medicaid claims. Redirects proceeds from the Indigent Care Trust Fund. Repeals provisions related to employee discrimination by an employer while an employee pursues a civil action under the State False Claims Act; provides remedies.
04/16/2012 Signed by Governor. Act No. 591
 
HAWAII
HI H 1181 Choy (D)
Title: Government
Status: Enacted
Summary: Relates to relief from retaliatory actions for public employees, contractors, or agents. It prohibits the bringing of any action against a county or the state based on allegations for which the county or the state is currently a party. Updates provisions regarding making a false or fraudulent claim.
07/09/2012 Signed by Governor. Act No. 2012-294
 
HI H 1672 Choy (D)
Title: Whistleblower Awards
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Establishes monetary awards for whistleblowers providing information that is the basis for any Department of Taxation administrative or judicial action for violations of tax laws.
03/08/2012 To Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
 
ILLINOIS
IL H 1135  Watson J (R)
Title: Whistleblower Act
Status: Pending - Adjourned
Summary: Amends the Whistleblower Act. It adds to the definition of employee any person licensed by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
07/01/2012 Rule 19(b)/ Re-referred to Rules Committee.
 
IL H 4190  Williams A (D)
Title: Civil Actions for False Claims
Status: Enacted
Summary: Amends the state False Claims Act. It provides that certain false claim actions must, unless opposed by the state, be dismissed by the court if substantially the same allegations or transactions as alleged in the action were publicly disclosed. Redefines original source; provides that a civil action for relief from retaliatory actions may not be brought more than three years after the date when the retaliation occurred.
08/17/2012 Signed by Governor. Public Act No. 978
 
IL S 1830   Forby (D)
Title: Cemetery Oversight
Status: Enacted
Summary: Amends the Cemetery Oversight Act. It provides a full exemption to cemeteries meeting specific criteria. Provides for certain exemptions for public and religious cemeteries. Makes changes including civil action and civil penalties, whistleblower protection, contracts, crematories, unlawful practices, pre-need arrangements, missing persons and records confidentiality.
02/06/2012 Signed by Governor. Public Act No. 679
 
INDIANA
IN H 1294  Heaton (R)
Title: Securities Division
Status: Enacted
Summary: Relates to the Securities Division. It provides that the secretary of State may use an equivalent method to micrographically copying documents. Amends the definition of residential mortgage loan concerning the regulation of loan brokers and adds the definition of residential real estate. Provides for registration as a broker dealer. Allows the division to provide rewards to informants who provide information concerning acts or omissions. Provides for a multistate automated licensing system.
03/15/2012 Signed by Governor.
03/16/2012 Public Law No. 85
 
IOWA
IA S 2225   Senate Education Committee
Title: Abuse of Children
Status: Enacted
Summary: Relates to child abuse. It prohibits retaliation for reporting. Provides for reporting policies at postsecondary institutions and requiring review of training requirements. Prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory action against an employee as a reprisal for the employee's participation in good faith in making a child abuse report, or aiding and assisting in an assessment of a child in reporting abuse or sexual abuse.
03/30/2012 Signed by Governor.
07/16/2012 Chapter No. 1040
 
LOUISIANA
LA S 158 Morrell (D)
Title: Employment Whistleblower Protection
Status: Enacted
Summary: Provides whistleblower protection. It provides that no employee shall be discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or discriminated against in any manner in the terms and conditions of his employment because of any lawful act engaged in by the employee or on behalf of the employee in furtherance of reporting the sexual abuse of a minor child by any fellow employee to law enforcement; provides for civil actions.
05/15/2012 Signed by Governor. Act No. 148
 
MASSACHUSETTS
MA S 2407 Senate Ways and Means Committee
Title: Employee Protection Act
Status: Pending - Adjourned
Summary: Relates to an employee protection act. It provides that a provision in any contract waiving any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, harassment or violation of public policy in employment shall be deemed void and unenforceable; prohibits retaliatory action because the person does not enter into an agreement or contract that contains a waiver deemed void or unenforceable.
08/09/2012 To House Committee on Ways and Means.
 
MISSISSIPPI
MS H 189  Moak (D)
Title: Whistleblower Law
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Allows damages in whistleblower actions.
03/06/2012 Died in committee.
 
MISSOURI
MO H 1219   Elmer (R)
Title: Human Rights Act and Employment Discrimination
Status: Vetoed
Summary: Modifies the laws regarding unlawful discriminatory employment practices as they relate to the Missouri Human Rights Act and establishes the Whistleblower Protection Act. It provides for motions for summary judgment, trials by jury and awards of damages.
03/19/2012 Vetoed by Governor.
 
NEW JERSEY
NJ A 2648  Fuentes (D)
Title: Disclosure of Certain Employment Information
Status: Vetoed
Summary:  Prohibits employer retaliation against any employee who discloses to, or requests of, any other employee or former employee of the employer information regarding the job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation, including benefits, or the gender, race, ethnicity, military status, or national origin of the employee or former employee, if the disclosure was made to assist in investigating the possibility of discriminatory treatment concerning pay, compensation, bonuses or benefits.
09/24/2012 Conditional veto by Governor. Returned to Assembly.
10/11/2012 In Assembly. Read second time on concurrence in Governor’s recommendation.
 
NJ S 787  Weinberg (D)
Title: Whistleblower-Extends Protection
Status: Pending - Carried Over to 2013 Session
Summary:  Extends whistleblower protections to employee disclosure of governmental mismanagement, waste and abuse.
01/10/2012 To Senate Committee on Labor.
 
NEW MEXICO
NM S 281   Curtis (D)
Title: Civil Actions and Whistleblower Protection Act
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Relates to civil actions. It clarifies that the remedies provided in the Whistleblower Protection Act shall always be available notwithstanding the provisions of any other law.
02/12/2012 From Senate Committee on Public Affairs: Do pass.
 
NEW YORK
NY S 1593 Krueger (D)
Title: Nuclear Powered Electric Generating Facilities
Status: Pending - Adjourned
Summary: Directs the NYS energy research and development authority and public and private operators of each nuclear-powered electric generating facility to establish a nuclear whistleblower access and assistance program. Makes related provisions as to elements of the program and provides that employees of such plants shall not be subject to retaliation; requires authority to investigate reported safety concerns.
03/12/2012 To Senate Committee on Rules.
 
NY S 5674 Krueger (D)
Title: Retaliatory Personnel Actions By Employers
Status: Pending - Adjourned
Summary: Relates to retaliatory personnel actions by employers.
03/12/2012 To Senate Committee on Rules.
 
NY S 7431 Marcellino (R)
Title: Non-Profit Revitalization Act
Status: Pending - Adjourned
Summary: Enacts the nonprofit revitalization act. It relates to charitable organizations, affiliates, independent auditors and independent directors. It also relates to a conflict of interest and whistleblower policies, and to mergers and religious organizations.
05/15/2012 To Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.
 
OREGON
OR H 4064 House Veterans Affairs Committee
Title: Veterans Affairs
Status: Enacted
Summary: Requires the commissioner of Bureau of Labor and Industries to inform the director of Veterans' Affairs of receipt of written information from or the filing of a complaint concerning labor discrimination by a member or veteran of uniformed service under certain circumstances.
03/16/2012 Signed by Governor.
03/19/2012 Chaptered. Chapter No. 44
 
RHODE ISLAND
RI H 7509  Ucci (D)
Title: Labor and Labor Relations
Status: Enacted
Summary: Amends several provisions of the general laws pertaining to the payment of wages. It sets forth a hearing procedure for alleged violations of existing law. Prohibits retaliation by the employer in the form of discrimination, discharge, or threatening the employee. Provides a private right of action to an aggrieved employee in order to pursue wages, benefits and other equitable relief.
06/20/2012 Signed by Governor. Public Law No. 2012-306
 
RI S 2422   Miller (D)
Title: Labor and Labor Relations
Status: Enacted
Summary: Amends several provisions of the general laws pertaining to the payment of wages. It sets forth a hearing procedure for alleged violations of existing law. Prohibits retaliation by the employer in the form of discrimination, discharge, or threatening the employee. Provides a private right of action to an aggrieved employee in order to pursue wages, benefits and other equitable relief.
06/20/2012 Signed by Governor. Public Law No. 2012-344
 
SOUTH CAROLINA
SC S 1340  Malloy (D)
Title: Discrimination Remedies
Status: Enacted
Summary: Relates to remedies of employees alleging discrimination for filing complaints or instituting proceedings regarding occupational safety and health. Provides procedures that the director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation shall follow upon receipt of a complaint alleging such discrimination.
06/29/2012 Signed by Governor.
07/17/2012 Act No. 282
 
TENNESSEE
TN H 2378 McCormick (R)
Title: Tenncare and Medicaid False Claims Act
Status: Enacted
Summary: Relates to TennCare; revises various provisions of the Medicaid False Claims Act. Authorizes an action brought by the attorney general against people engaged the such fraud. Relates to civil penalties for violations. Provides relief for any employee, contractor, or agent who is improperly discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any way discriminated against for lawful acts concerning a related investigation of false claims.
04/23/2012 Signed by Governor.
04/26/2012 Public Chaptered. Chapter No. 806
 
UTAH
UT S 222 Reid (R)
Title: Short Title - Whistleblower Amendments
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary: Relates to whistleblower amendments.
02/04/2012 Introduced.
 
VIRGINIA
VA S 483 Favola (D)
Title: Asbestos Workers
Status: Pending - Carried Over to 2013 Session
Summary: Relates to asbestos workers. Relates to violations and to penalties. It requires the commissioner of Labor and Industry to maintain a registry of employee complaints alleging the existence or imminent threat of an asbestos NESHAP violation. The measure prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise penalizing an employee who files a complaint in good faith. Provides that an employee who is subject to retaliation may bring an action against the employer for reinstatement and other remedies.
01/30/2012 Committee substitute printed.
 
WASHINGTON
WA H 2412   Kenney (D)
Title: Industrial Safety and Health Act
Status: Failed - Adjourned
Summary:  Increases protections for employees under the Washington industrial safety and health act of 1973. Prohibits discharging an employee for reporting any injury, illness or unsafe condition.
04/11/2012 By Order of Resolution - Reintroduced and retained in present status.
 
WA S 5412 Keiser (D)
Title: Whistleblowers in the Conveyance Work Industry
Status: Enacted
Summary: Provides employee whistleblower protection in the conveyance work industry. Protects against reprisal for reporting violations in good faith.
03/19/2012 Signed by Governor. Chapter No. 54
 
 
Source: StateNet legislative bill tracking database, year-end search, Nov. 19, 2012.