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Kansas Whistleblower Rights: Unveiling Protections and Penalties for Reporting Wrongdoing

Whistleblower Rights in Kansas: Know Your Protections

Whistleblowers are individuals who report illegal, unethical, or dishonest activities in an organization. Employees who expose such activities face the risk of retaliation from their employer, such as getting fired or demoted.

In Kansas, there are legal protections for whistleblowers to encourage them to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. This article looks at the common law and statutory protections for whistleblowers in Kansas, the whistleblowing hotlines, retaliation claims, and the penalties for retaliation and violation of whistleblowers rights.

Common Law Whistleblower Protections in Kansas

Common law whistleblower protections are legal protections recognized by courts that date back to early English common law. In Kansas, common law whistleblower protections are limited.

Most commonly, they apply to workers compensation cases. If an employer fires or retaliates against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim, the employee may be able to sue the employer for wrongful discharge.

However, this varies from case to case and is based on specific evidence that the employee was terminated due to the workers compensation filing.

Statutory Protections

Kansas Whistleblower Act

The Kansas Whistleblower Act (KWA) provides protections for employees who report violations of state or federal law or rules, or object to, refuse or resist participation in an activity that violates a law or regulation. The KWA bars employers in Kansas from taking any retaliatory action against whistleblowers.

Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers can face serious consequences.

Protection for Testifying Before the Secretary of Labor

Employees who provide information about violations to the Secretary of Labor or participate in any investigation, hearing, or proceeding related to an investigation cant be retaliated against by their employer.


Employees who report discrimination, such as harassment or bias, to their employer are protected under the anti-retaliation provisions of state and federal discrimination laws. Employers cant retaliate against employees who report discrimination, and employees who suffer retaliation can sue for damages.

Malpractice in Healthcare

Under Kansas Law, healthcare workers are encouraged to report physicians for misconduct and poor performance, and nursing homes have mandatory reporting for abuse and neglect. The law protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employer.

Occupational Safety and Health

Employees who file complaints about unsafe or unhealthy work conditions under the Kansas

Occupational Safety and Health Act (KOSHA) are protected from retaliation. Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers may face administrative, civil, and criminal penalties.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Kansas

To help whistleblowers report violations, Kansas has several hotlines that employees can call to report grievances or speak with an investigator. The Kansas Human Rights Commission can receive complaints of discrimination.


Kansas Department of Labor has a whistleblower hotline and accepts reports of unsafe working conditions, misuse of state funds, and other illegal activities. The state civil service board can accept grievances from state employees, and individuals can file complaints with the Secretary of Labor.

Retaliation Claims in Kansas

Under Kansas law, whistleblowers who experience retaliation have a limited time frame within which to file a complaint. A complaint filed later than the deadlines may be dismissed without the option to continue with the case.

Whistleblowers have to bring a claim under the Kansas Whistleblower Act within 90 days of the retaliation and under the discrimination and age discrimination statutes within six months. Retaliation claims have a two-year statute of limitations and must be brought within this timeframe.

It is essential that whistleblowers do not wait until the last moment to file their complaints to ensure they don’t miss the deadline.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Kansas

If an employer retaliates against an employee or violates a whistleblowers rights, the employer can face a range of penalties. For instance, the whistleblower can receive remedies such as reinstatement, compensatory damages for litigation costs, and punitive damages.

Likewise, under state law, the employer can be assessed with fines and suspension of its operations. Moreover, imprisonment or civil penalties can be assessed if the retaliatory action was a criminal act.

Exceptions to Employment-At-Will Doctrine

The employment-at-will doctrine means that employers can terminate employment at any time, for any legal reason, and without notice or cause. The doctrine gives employers vast power over their employees employment status.

However, there are exceptions to this doctrine in Kansas: statutory protections and common law protections.

Common Law Protections

The common law protections for employees under the employment-at-will doctrine include restrictions against terminating employees because it would violate public policy. For instance, employers cant terminate employees who are reporting illegal or unethical activities by the employer, and public policy supports the employees reporting of such violations.

Therefore, employees who are faced with retaliation under such situations can use common law protections to argue against their wrongful termination.

Statutory Protections

The two statutory protections that exist in Kansas are the protection against age discrimination and public policy protections for workers compensation and whistleblowing. The law expressly states that an employer cant discriminate against an employee who is 40 years old or older.

The protection for public policy workers compensation makes it illegal for an employer to terminate an employee who has filed for workers’ compensation or reported an injury. The whistleblowing protection prohibits an employer from retaliating against whistleblowers who report illegal or unethical activities that threaten the public good.

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Protected Activities in Kansas: Understanding Public Policy and Its Criteria

In Kansas, employers cannot retaliate against workers who engage in activities protected under public policy. Activities that are protected under public policy include filing a claim for workers’ compensation and whistleblowing.

In this article, we will explain the conditions for meeting the public policy protected activity criteria to help employees understand their rights and protections under this law.

Protected Activities Under Public Policy

Employers in Kansas can’t retaliate against employees who exercise their rights under public policy. Employees are protected when they perform activities that are related to establishing public policy and its objectives.

The two main protected activities are:

Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation

Employees with injuries eligible for workers’ compensation in Kansas are protected under public policy. The employees have the right to file a claim without the fear of retaliation or discrimination by their employer.

Employers can’t, for instance, terminate employees for seeking or receiving workers’ compensation benefits.


Employees who disclose unlawful or unethical activities by their employer affecting the public are also protected under public policy. Employers can’t retaliate against employees for reporting the unlawful activities, even if their reporting negatively affects the employer’s business.

Conditions for Meeting Public Policy Protected Activity Criteria

To ensure that employees are genuinely protected under public policy, the state of Kansas has set specific criteria that must be met for an activity to qualify as a protected activity:

Injury eligible for workers’ compensation

The employee’s injury or illness should be eligible for workers’ compensation. If the employer is aware of the injury’s existence and the employee files for benefits, the employer cannot retaliate.

Employer’s awareness of injury

The employer must be aware of the employee’s injury or illness that is eligible for workers’ compensation. Employees can’t file a claim for workers’ compensation for a nonexistent injury.

Disclosure made in good faith and under reasonable belief

To be protected under the whistleblowing provision of public policy, an employee must disclose information in good faith and a reasonable belief that the unlawful or unethical activity exists. Employees who maliciously divulge false or misleading information are not protected.

Disclosure made to a supervisor or law enforcement agency

The employee must also make the disclosure to a supervisor or a law enforcement agency. Whistleblowers that report violations to a work colleague are not protected.

Identification of specific rule, regulation, or statute

The employee must identify a specific rule, regulation, or statute that is being broken to qualify for whistleblower protection.

Whistleblower Hotlines and Filing a Complaint in Kansas

Whistleblowers play an essential role in exposing corruption, fraud, and other illegal activities that threaten the public good. However, whistleblowers in Kansas risk retaliation from their employers if they report dishonest activities.

To help whistleblowers report violations, Kansas has several hotlines that employees can call to report grievances or speak with an investigator.

Whistleblower Hotlines

Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

The KHRC is responsible for enforcing the Kansas Act Against

Discrimination (KAAD). Employees who face discrimination in the workplace due to a disability, age, race, gender, or being pregnant can file a grievance with KHRC.

Whistleblowers can report violations and discrimination at their workplace by calling the KHRC.

State Civil Service Board (SCSB)

The SCSB is responsible for hearing and resolving grievances by state employees. State employees can file complaints about their working conditions, harassment, discrimination, and any other violations.

The SCSB hotline is currently unavailable, but employees can file a complaint online.

Secretary of Labor (SOL)


Kansas Department of Labor oversees several programs that are responsible for enforcing labor laws, including workers’ compensation, wage and hour laws, and work safety laws. The SOL hotline is available for employees who want to report wage and hour violations, unsafe working conditions, and other violations of labor law.

Kansas Department of Labor


Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) is responsible for enforcing many state and federal labor laws, protecting workers’ rights and safety, and providing educational resources and assistance to employers and employees. The KDOL hotline is available for employees who want to report violations at their workplace.

Filing a Complaint for

Retaliation Claims in Kansas

While there are protections for whistleblowers in Kansas, retaliatory actions can still occur. Employees who suffer retaliation have a limited time frame within which to file a complaint.

Filing a complaint in time is crucial to preserve the claim’s strength and ensure that it isn’t dismissed without further options. The deadlines to file a claim in Kansas are:

Kansas Whistleblower Act: Within 90 days of the retaliation

Discrimination and Age

Discrimination Statutes: Within six months of the retaliatory action

Retaliation Claims: Within two years of the retaliatory action

Complaints may be filed with the appropriate state or federal agency or with the appropriate court. Employees must provide the relevant information to support their retaliation claim.

A skilled attorney can assist employees in this process and help ensure that workers’ rights are protected. Conclusion – N/A

Penalties for Retaliation and Violation in Kansas: Safeguarding Whistleblowers

Protecting whistleblowers is crucial to upholding integrity, transparency, and accountability within organizations.

Kansas recognizes the importance of safeguarding these individuals and imposes penalties for retaliation against employees and violations of relevant statutes. In this article, we will delve into the penalties for unlawful retaliation against an employee and the consequences for violating specific statutes, emphasizing the state’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers and promoting a fair and just work environment.

Penalties for Unlawful Retaliation Against an Employee

Kansas law ensures that employees who face retaliation for engaging in protected activities are entitled to various remedies for unjust workplace actions. Penalties for unlawful retaliation can include:


If an employee is wrongfully terminated due to retaliation, the court may order the employer to reinstate the employee to their former position or a comparable one.

Reinstatement aims to restore the employee to their rightful position within the organization.

Litigation Costs

The employer may be required to cover the employee’s litigation costs incurred during the legal process. This ensures that employees are not burdened by the financial implications of fighting against retaliatory actions.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded as a means of punishment and deterrence. If the court finds that the employer acted with malice, fraud, or oppressive behavior, it may order the employer to pay additional damages to the employee.

This serves as a warning to discourage future instances of retaliation.


In certain cases, employers who engage in retaliatory actions may be subject to fines. The exact amount may vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the retaliation.

Fines act as a financial penalty and dissuade employers from engaging in such behaviors.


In extreme cases where the retaliation involves criminal actions, such as physical harm or coercion, the responsible individuals may face imprisonment. This serves as a severe consequence for actions that endanger the well-being and safety of whistleblowers.

Barred from Being a State Employee for up to 2 Years

In cases where retaliation occurs in state government settings, the responsible party may be barred from holding a state government position for a specified period. This penalty prevents those who have demonstrated unethical or unlawful behavior from resuming similar roles in the state government.

Civil Penalties

Besides the specific penalties outlined above, employers who retaliate against employees may also face civil penalties imposed by regulatory agencies, such as the

Kansas Department of Labor. These penalties can result in financial repercussions for employers and act as a further deterrent against engaging in retaliatory actions.

Penalties for Violation of Statutes

Kansas statutes addressing workers’ rights, labor laws, and whistleblower protections have specific penalties in place to discourage employers from violating these laws. Penalties for violations can include:


Certain violations of labor laws or whistleblower protections may be classified as misdemeanors.

Misdemeanor charges can carry more substantial penalties compared to civil penalties and indicate a higher degree of severity in the violation.


The court may order violators to pay fines as a penalty for violating labor laws and whistleblower protections.

Fines serve as a financial deterrent and indicate the severity of the violation.


In egregious cases of labor law violations, such as withholding wages or engaging in fraudulent activities, the violators may face imprisonment. This serves as a significant consequence for actions that harm employees and violate their rights.

Civil Penalties

State and federal agencies responsible for enforcing labor laws and whistleblower protections may impose civil penalties on employers who violate these statutes. Civil penalties can result in monetary fines and administrative sanctions.

It is vital for employers to understand that violations have serious consequences, as reflected in the penalties outlined above. By enforcing these penalties, Kansas aims to protect employees, ensure compliance with labor laws, and foster a fair and equitable work environment.

Conclusion – N/A

Protecting whistleblowers and enforcing accountability in the workplace are crucial for maintaining integrity and transparency. In Kansas, both common law and statutory protections exist to safeguard whistleblowers and ensure they can report illegal activities without fear of retaliation.

Employees who engage in protected activities, such as filing a claim for workers’ compensation or blowing the whistle on unlawful actions, are granted legal protections. Violating these protections can result in severe penalties, including reinstatement, punitive damages, fines, imprisonment, and civil penalties.

The consequences for violating statutes related to labor laws and whistleblower protections are also significant. This highlights the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for employees to come forward with concerns, as well as holding accountable those who engage in retaliatory actions or violate the law.

By understanding their rights and the potential consequences for wrongful actions, whistleblowers can feel empowered to speak up and contribute to a more just and ethical work culture.

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