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Protected and Empowered: Whistleblower Rights in Arkansas

Employment is essential for people to earn a livelihood. Workers in Arkansas are governed by the employment-at-will doctrine, which means that employers can terminate their employees for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it is not illegal.

However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, and workers are protected under common law and statutory protections. Additionally, whistleblowers in Arkansas have a legal right to report illegal and unethical activities without fear of retaliation.

This article will dive deep into the laws and regulations concerning the employment-at-will doctrine and whistleblower protections in Arkansas.

Employment-At-Will Doctrine in Arkansas

The employment-at-will doctrine is the default rule in Arkansas, which means that employers can terminate their employees for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it is not illegal. This might seem unfair to employees, but it is important to remember that employers can also terminate employees for their own protection.

However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Statutory Protections

The Arkansas Whistleblower Act provides protection to employees who report violations of the law or government regulations by their employers. This includes whistleblowers who report waste or misuse of public funds and property, discrimination, civil rights violations, and violations of workers’ compensation laws.

Employers cannot retaliate against whistleblowers by firing, demoting, reducing their pay, or taking any other unfavorable action against them.

Common Law Protections

Employees in Arkansas are also protected by common law protections, which are based on public policy. These protections cover employees who are terminated for reasons that violate public policy.

For example, if an employee is fired for refusing to obey an order from their employer that is illegal or unethical, the employee may be able to sue their employer on the basis that the termination violates public policy.

Exceptions to Employment-At-Will Doctrine

There are certain exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine that provide additional protections to employees in Arkansas. One of the exceptions is the public policy exception, which protects employees who are terminated for reasons that violate public policy.

Another exception is the workers’ compensation exception, which prohibits employers from firing employees who have filed a workers’ compensation claim in good faith.

Whistleblower Protections in Arkansas

Whistleblowers in Arkansas have legal protection from retaliation from their employers for reporting illegal or unethical activities. If a whistleblower is retaliated against, they may file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, or file a lawsuit for damages, reinstatement, back pay, court costs, and attorney fees.

Whistleblowers may also be entitled to fines and other forms of financial compensation.

Whistleblower Hotline

The attorney general’s office in Arkansas maintains a whistleblower hotline, where whistleblowers can report illegal or unethical activities in the workplace anonymously. The hotline is available 24/7 to employees who want to report a violation of the law or government regulations by their employer.

This is a valuable resource for employees who are afraid of retaliation, as it allows them to report wrongdoing without putting their jobs or livelihoods at risk.

Conclusion

In summary, workers in Arkansas are governed by the employment-at-will doctrine, which allows employers to terminate their employees for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it is not illegal. However, employees are also protected by statutory and common law protections, which provide additional protection against retaliation.

Whistleblowers in Arkansas are also protected by law and have many resources available to them if they are retaliated against. The whistleblower hotline is a valuable resource for employees who want to report illegal or unethical activities without fear of retaliation.

Understanding these laws and regulations is essential for both employers and employees in Arkansas.

Filing a Whistleblower Complaint in Arkansas

Concerned employees in Arkansas who witness illegal or unethical activities in their workplace are encouraged to report these activities. Reporting such activities is known as whistleblowing.

Whistleblowers in Arkansas are well protected against retaliation from their employers. If you are looking to file a whistleblower complaint to report illegal or unethical activities in your workplace in Arkansas, here is some important information you need to know.

Whistleblower Hotline

Firstly, the state of Arkansas maintains a whistleblower hotline for whistleblowers to report illegal or unethical activities in their workplace. The hotline is available 24/7 and allows for anonymous reporting.

If you fear retaliation from your employer, the hotline is a good option for reporting wrongdoing in your workplace without putting your job or livelihood at risk.

Statutory Time Limits

Secondly, employees must ensure that they file their complaints within certain statutory time limits. These time limits differ depending on the type of complaint.

For example, under the Arkansas Whistleblower Act, an employee may file a complaint within three (3) years of the alleged retaliatory act. However, under the discrimination statute, an employee must file a complaint within 180 days of the alleged discriminative act.

In cases of workers’ compensation discrimination, an employee must file a complaint within one year of the alleged retaliation. For complaints filed with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, an employee has 90 days from the alleged retaliation to file a complaint.

Possible Remedies

Thirdly, whistleblowers who report illegal or unethical activities in their workplace in Arkansas are entitled to a range of remedies, if their claim is successful. These remedies depend on the facts of each case.

The possible remedies are:

Compensatory Damages: These are damages awarded to compensate the whistleblower for the actual damages they suffered as a result of their employer’s retaliatory actions. This may include lost wages, lost benefits, medical expenses, and other damages.

Punitive Damages: These are additional damages a court may award to a whistleblower in cases where the employer’s retaliatory action was particularly egregious or outrageous. These damages are meant to punish the employer for their actions and deter others from behaving similarly.

Reinstatement: This is when a court orders that the whistleblower be reinstated to their previous position with the employer, with the same pay and benefits. Back Pay: This involves the employer being ordered to pay the whistleblower all the money they would have earned if they had not been subjected to retaliatory actions.

Court Costs and Attorney Fees: The employer may be required to pay any court costs and attorney fees incurred by the whistleblower in bringing their legal action. Consequences of Violating

Whistleblower Protections in Arkansas

Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers in Arkansas violate statutory protections which may lead to serious consequences.

Here’s what you need to know about the sanctions for violating whistleblower protections in Arkansas.

Statutory Protections

Arkansas Whistleblower Act protects employees from retaliation for reporting illegal or unethical activities within their workplace. If an employer retaliates against an employee, the employee is entitled to file a complaint and seek redress under this act.

In addition, other statutes provide protection to employees who report unlawful discrimination, such as the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Workers’ Compensation Law also provides protection to employees who are retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Possible Remedies

The remedies available to whistleblowers under Arkansas law include back pay and interest, court and attorney fees, and punitive and compensatory damages. The employer may also be fined up to $1,000 for each violation and may be liable for a class D felony if found guilty of knowingly retaliating against an employee.

These severe penalties are intended to encourage employers to take whistleblower complaints seriously and treat whistleblowers with respect.

Conclusion

Whistleblower protections in Arkansas are robust and provide employees with the necessary protections they need when reporting illegal and unethical activities in their workplace. The state’s

Whistleblower Hotline is a valuable resource for whistleblowers who want to report wrongdoing anonymously. Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers must face serious consequences, including substantial fines and the possibility of being charged for a class D felony.

Employees should be aware of their rights and the available remedies if they are retaliated against for reporting illegal or unethical activities. In conclusion, whistleblowers in Arkansas have legal protection from retaliation for reporting illegal or unethical activities in the workplace.

Employees who report wrongdoing in their workplace by their employer, including waste of public funds, discrimination, and violation of workers’ compensation laws, are protected under the Arkansas Whistleblower Act. These employees may file complaints anonymously via the whistleblower hotline, and if their claim is successful, they can be entitled to a range of remedies, including back pay, reinstatement, and court costs and attorney fees.

Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers can face severe consequences, such as substantial fines and possible class D felony charges. It is important for employees to understand their rights and the available remedies if they are retaliated against for reporting illegal or unethical activities.

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