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Know Your Rights: Whistleblower Protections in Kentucky

Whistleblower Rights in Kentucky

Do you know your rights as a whistleblower in Kentucky? Whether you are an employee in the public sector or private sector, you may have legal protections if you report your employer’s misconduct.

This article will provide an overview of common law and statutory protections for whistleblowers in Kentucky.

Common Law Protections

Under the common law doctrine of employment-at-will, employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it does not violate a contract or a statute. However, Kentucky has recognized an exception to this doctrine called the public policy exception.

This exception precludes employers from terminating employees for reporting illegal activities or unsafe working conditions. To qualify for the public policy exception, the whistleblower must show that (1) the employer required the employee to violate a law, (2) the employee refused to violate the law, (3) the employer discharged the employee, and (4) the discharge was the result of the employee’s refusal to violate the law.

If these elements are met, the whistleblower can sue the employer for wrongful discharge.

Statutory Protections

In addition to common law protections, Kentucky has several statutory protections for whistleblowers. These protections apply to employees who report violations of specific laws.

Public Employees

Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 61.102 protects public employees from retaliation for disclosing information about a violation of law. The disclosure must be made in good faith and to an appropriate authority.

A public employee who experiences retaliation can file a complaint with the Kentucky Personnel Board.

Discrimination

KRS 344.280 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who oppose discriminatory practices under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Employees who suffer retaliation for opposing discrimination can file a complaint with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

Discrimination Concerning Disabled Persons

KRS 344.040 prohibits employers from engaging in unfair practices against employees with disabilities. Employees who suffer retaliation for reporting such practices can file a complaint with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

Medical Assistance Fraud

KRS 205.8455 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report or plan to report suspected medical assistance fraud. Employees who suffer retaliation can file a complaint with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Minimum Wage

KRS 337.385 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file a complaint or participate in a proceeding relating to unpaid wages. Employees who suffer retaliation can file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.

Mining

KRS 352.040 prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against employees who provide testimony to the Department of Natural Resources regarding mine safety. Employees who experience retaliation can file a complaint with the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.

Occupational Safety and Health

KRS 338.121 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file a complaint or participate in a proceeding relating to occupational safety and health. Employees who suffer retaliation can file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.

Wage Payment

Discrimination

KRS 337.423 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex with regard to wages. Employees who suffer retaliation for complaining about wage discrimination can file a complaint with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.

Workers Compensation

KRS 342.197 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Employees who experience retaliation can file a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims.

Whistleblower Hotlines

If you are afraid of retaliation or unsure where to report misconduct, you can contact one of Kentucky’s whistleblower hotlines. These hotlines are designed to help employees report wrongdoing and provide information about their rights and protections.

Department of Human Rights

If you believe you have experienced discrimination or retaliation, you can call the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights at 1-800-292-5566 to file a complaint and learn more about your options.

Workplace Standards

If you have questions about safety and health standards in your workplace, you can call the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s

Workplace Standards Division at 502-564-3070.

Occupational Safety and Health

If you have concerns about workplace safety and health, you can call the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Division of

Occupational Safety and Health at 502-564-3070.

Conclusion

Whistleblower protections in Kentucky are designed to encourage employees to report misconduct without fear of retaliation. If you believe your employer has violated the law or engaged in unsafe practices, you have legal options and resources to protect yourself.

Contact one of Kentucky’s whistleblower hotlines to learn more about your rights and protections.

Retaliation Claims in Kentucky

Whistleblowers in Kentucky are legally protected from retaliation by their employers when they report misconduct or violations of the law. However, sometimes employers do retaliate, which can lead employees to feel helpless and unsure of what to do.

This article will discuss various steps and options to take for employees in Kentucky who experience retaliation at work.

Public Employees

Under Kentucky law, public employees are protected from retaliation if they make a good faith disclosure of wrongdoing by their employer. If an employee is fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against within 90 days of making a complaint, they can file a complaint with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

The Commission can investigate the claim and take appropriate action against the employer.

Discrimination concerning Disabled Persons

Kentucky law also protects employees who witness or report unfair practices against disabled individuals. If an employee experiences retaliation for reporting such practices, they may file a lawsuit within one year of the date of the retaliatory action.

The lawsuit can be filed with the Office of

Workplace Standards, which will investigate the claim and prosecute employers who violate the law.

Occupational Safety and Health

Employees who report violations of occupational safety and health laws are protected from retaliation under Kentucky law. If an employee experiences retaliation, they may file a lawsuit within a reasonable time period after the retaliatory action.

The lawsuit can be filed with the Department of Labor or the Office of

Occupational Safety and Health, which will investigate the claim and prosecute employers who violate the law.

Retaliation Claims

Employees who file complaints regarding violations of law are also protected from retaliation for up to six months after the complaint. If an employee experiences retaliation during this time, they can file a lawsuit against their employer seeking damages and relief.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Kentucky

Minimum Wage

When an employer fails to pay their employees minimum wage in Kentucky, they are subject to civil penalties. This includes a fine of $1000 to $10,000 per violation.

If an employee reports a violation of minimum wage laws and subsequently experiences retaliation by their employer, the employee can file a lawsuit for unlawful retaliation.

Unlawful Retaliation

If an employee experiences retaliation for reporting violations of the law, they may be entitled to punitive damages, injunctive relief, reinstatement, and litigation costs. An employee can obtain these remedies by filing a lawsuit against their employer.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages in retaliation lawsuits are designed to punish the employer for their wrongdoing. An employee can obtain punitive damages if the employer engaged in malicious or reckless conduct in retaliation against the employee.

Injunctive Relief

Injunctive relief is an order from a court to stop an employer from engaging in retaliation against an employee. This remedy can be especially helpful for employees who fear future retaliation.

Reinstatement

Reinstatement is the process of returning an employee to their previous position of employment. This remedy can be ordered by a court if the employee was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reporting violations.

Litigation Costs

In addition to other remedies, an employee who succeeds in a retaliation lawsuit may be entitled to reimbursement for their legal fees and other costs incurred during the lawsuit.

Conclusion

Retaliation is never an acceptable response to whistleblowing or reporting unlawful practices. Employers in Kentucky who engage in retaliation are not only violating the law, but they are also putting their employees at risk of harm.

If you experience retaliation at work, it is important to know your rights and the resources available to you. By taking action, you can help protect yourself and other employees from similar mistreatment.

In conclusion, whistleblowers in Kentucky have several legal protections against retaliation from their employers. Common law protections include the public policy exception that protects employees who report misconduct or violations of the law.

Statutory protections under Kentucky law include various laws that protect public employees, disabled persons, and employees who report violations in their workplace. Retaliation claims can be filed in Kentucky when enacted and legal protections are eliminated, and employees subjected to unlawful retaliation may be entitled to a range of remedies.

It is important for employees to know their rights and the resources available to them when reporting misconduct or violations of law. The protection of whistleblowers at the workplace is vital for the prevention of corporate and organizational corruption and the promotion of transparency and accountability.

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