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Protecting Whistleblowers in New Hampshire: Your Essential Guide to Rights and Safeguards

Whistleblower Protections in New Hampshire: Your Rights and Protections

Whistleblowing, the act of exposing wrongdoing or illegal activity by an organization or its employees, is an essential element of a functioning democracy. Whistleblowers play a crucial role in holding employers accountable and protecting the public interest.

Unfortunately, the act of whistleblowing often comes with significant risks and consequences for the individual involved. This article will explore whistleblowing protections in New Hampshire, including common law and statutory protections, and specific protections for whistleblowers in asbestos management and control, child care licensing, dog and horse racing employees, crime victim employment leave, occupational safety and health, and toxic substances.

Common Law Protections

New Hampshire recognizes the common law principle of public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine, which provides protection for employees who are terminated for engaging in certain protected activities that are deemed in the public interest. The protected activities include, but are not limited to, refusing to engage in illegal activity, reporting illegal activity to a supervisor or a government agency, participating in a government investigation, and asserting statutory rights.

The public policy exception applies only to employees who are terminated for engaging in protected activities. If an employee is terminated for any other lawful reason, they may not be able to rely on this exception.

Statutory Protections

New Hampshire has several legislations that protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers for engaging in protected activities. The

Whistleblowers Protection Act (WPA) is the most comprehensive of these laws.

The WPA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report or participate in investigations of actual or suspected violations of any law, rule, or regulation. The WPA also covers employees who refuse to participate in illegal activity and those who testify or furnish information related to a violation of law or regulation.

The WPA further extends protection to employees who disclose hazardous waste management violations.

Asbestos Management and Control

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) regulates the management and control of asbestos-containing materials. The DES provides protection for employees who report violations of asbestos control regulations.

The employee must first inform their employer of the violation before reporting to DES. The employer is required to correct the violation within a reasonable amount of time.

If the employer retaliates against the employee for reporting the violation, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 180 days of the retaliation.

Child Care Licensing

Child care providers are required to obtain a license from the Department of Health and Human Services. The

Child Care Licensing Unit (CCLU) is responsible for investigating complaints of alleged violations of department rules and regulations.

The CCLU provides protection for employees who complain about a violation of child care licensing rules or regulations. If an employer retaliates against an employee for filing a complaint, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 180 days of the retaliation.

Dog and Horse Racing Employees

The New Hampshire Racing & Charitable Gaming Commission regulates dog and horse racing in the state. The commission provides protection for employees who file complaints or assist in investigations related to illegal activities in the racing industry.

If an employer retaliates against an employee for filing a complaint or assisting in an investigation, the employee may file a complaint with the commission within 30 days of the retaliation.

Crime Victim Employment Leave

New Hampshire law provides victims of crimes with the right to take time off from work to attend court proceedings related to the crime. The law also provides protection for employees who take leave for this purpose.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who take leave for crime victim employment purposes. If an employer retaliates against an employee for taking leave, the employee may file a lawsuit in court.

Occupational Safety and Health

The New Hampshire Department of Labor enforces occupational safety and health regulations in the state. The department provides protection for employees who report violations of these regulations.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report safety violations or participate in investigations related to safety violations. If an employer retaliates against an employee for engaging in protected activities, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 180 days of the retaliation.

Toxic Substances

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services regulates the use and disposal of toxic substances in the state. The department provides protection for employees who report violations of toxic substance regulations.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report violations or engage in investigations related to toxic substances. If an employer retaliates against an employee for engaging in protected activities, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 180 days of the retaliation.

In conclusion, whistleblowers play a crucial role in holding employers accountable and protecting the public interest. However, whistleblowing often comes with significant risks and consequences, including termination or other forms of retaliation.

In New Hampshire, whistleblowers have several protections available to them, including common law and statutory protections and specific protections for whistleblowers in different industries and situations. Through knowledge and awareness of these protections, whistleblowers can make informed decisions and help ensure that their rights are protected.

Filing Complaints and Hotlines in New Hampshire: Protecting Yourself as a Whistleblower

Whistleblower protections are in place to encourage individuals to speak up about wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. However, even with these protections, it can still be daunting to come forward.

It is important to understand the resources available for whistleblowers, including whistleblower hotlines and how to file complaints.

Whistleblower Hotlines

The New Hampshire Department of Labor and the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) both have whistleblower hotlines to report violations of whistleblower protections. The Department of Labors hotline is available for employees who believe that their employers are violating New Hampshire labor laws, including the

Whistleblowers Protection Act.

The PELRBs hotline is available for public employees who believe that their employers are violating their rights under the Public Employee Labor Relations Act. These hotlines allow whistleblowers to report violations and seek assistance from experienced personnel.

Filing Complaints

If a whistleblower believes that their employer has retaliated against them for engaging in protected activity, several options are available for filing complaints. The whistleblower may either file a civil action lawsuit or pursue administrative remedies.

Civil action allows the whistleblower to bring a lawsuit against the employer for violating their whistleblower rights. Administrative remedies involve filing a complaint with a state or federal agency.

The New Hampshire Department of Labor and the PELRB are two agencies available for filing whistleblower complaints in the state. The Department of Labor investigates complaints related to labor laws, including the

Whistleblowers Protection Act.

If the Department of Labor finds that the whistleblowers rights have been violated, the whistleblower may be awarded relief, including reinstatement, back-pay, and attorney fees. The PELRB handles complaints related to the Public Employee Labor Relations Act.

If the PELRB finds that the whistleblowers rights have been violated, it may award relief, including reinstatement and back-pay.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in New Hampshire

If an employer retaliates against a whistleblower for engaging in protected activity, they may face penalties under the

Whistleblowers Protection Act and other specific statutory protections.

Whistleblowers Protection Act

Under the

Whistleblowers Protection Act, an employer who retaliates against a whistleblower may be subject to specific penalties. If the whistleblower is terminated, they may be entitled to reinstatement, back-pay, and attorney fees.

If the whistleblower files a complaint with the New Hampshire Department of Labor, the Labor Commissioner may order the employer to take steps to correct the retaliation, including offering the whistleblower their job back. Additionally, the whistleblower may recover compensatory damages, including emotional distress damages.

Specific

Statutory Protections

Other specific statutory protections for whistleblowers in New Hampshire provide for different penalties for violations of whistleblower protections. In asbestos management and control, if an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting violations of asbestos control regulations, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor.

If the employer is found to have retaliated against the employee, the commissioner may order the employer to cease and desist the retaliation and pay the employee compensatory damages, including lost wages and benefits. In child care licensing, if an employer retaliates against an employee for filing a complaint related to child care licensing rules or regulations, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor.

If the Department of Labor finds that the employer retaliated against the employee, it may order the employer to cease and desist the retaliation and pay the employee back-pay, benefits, and attorney fees. In dog and horse racing employees, if an employer retaliates against an employee for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation related to illegal activities in the racing industry, the statute allows the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission to revoke the employers license, impose civil penalties, and award the employee compensatory damages.

In crime victim employment leave, if an employer retaliates against an employee for taking leave to attend court proceedings related to a crime, the employee may file a lawsuit in court. The employee may recover back-pay, benefits, attorney fees, and other expenses incurred as a result of the retaliation.

In occupational safety and health, if an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting safety violations or participating in investigations related to safety violations, the employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor. If the Department of Labor finds that the employer retaliated against the employee, it may order the employer to reinstate the employee, provide back-pay, and pay attorney fees.

Conclusion

Whistleblowers play a crucial role in promoting transparency and accountability in the workplace. However, whistleblowing can come with significant risks, including retaliation by an employer.

New Hampshire provides several protections for whistleblowers, including whistleblower hotlines, filing complaints, and penalties for employer retaliation. By understanding these options, whistleblowers can make informed decisions and help ensure that their rights are protected.

Conclusion: Understanding Whistleblower Laws in New Hampshire

Whistleblower protections are crucial to ensuring transparency in the workplace and allowing individuals to speak out against illegal activities without fearing retaliation. However, navigating the laws and regulations can be complex.

In this article, we explored the various whistleblower protections available in New Hampshire, including statutory and common law protections, whistleblower hotlines, filing complaints, and penalties for employer retaliation.

Employment-At-Will Doctrine

Employment-at-will is the default employment relationship in New Hampshire, which means that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason or no reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. However, the at-will doctrine is subject to exceptions, including the public policy exception and contractual exceptions.

The public policy exception provides protection for employees who are terminated for exercising certain protected activities that are deemed in the public interest, including refusing to engage in illegal activity, reporting illegal activity to a supervisor or a government agency, participating in a government investigation, and asserting statutory rights. This exception applies only to employees who are terminated for engaging in protected activities.

Statutory Protections

New Hampshire has several statutory protections for whistleblowers, including the

Whistleblowers Protection Act. The WPA provides protection for employees who report or participate in investigations of actual or suspected violations of any law, rule, or regulation, refuse or fail to participate in illegal activity, or testify or furnish information related to a violation of law or regulation.

The WPA extends protection to employees in various industries, including hazardous waste management, occupational safety and health, and toxic substances. Other specific statutory protections in New Hampshire include asbestos management and control, child care licensing, dog and horse racing employees, crime victim employment leave, and occupational safety and health.

These protections provide specific penalties for employers who violate whistleblower rights.

Common Law Protections

New Hampshire also recognizes the public policy exception under the common law, providing protection for employees who are terminated for engaging in protected activities in the public interest. However, common law protections are limited and may not apply in all situations.

Whistleblower Hotlines

Whistleblower hotlines provide an easy way for whistleblowers to report violations of whistleblower protections and seek assistance from experienced personnel. The New Hampshire Department of Labor and the PELRB both provide hotlines for employees to report labor law and public employee labor relations act violations.

Filing Complaints

Whistleblowers who believe their rights have been violated may file a civil action lawsuit or pursue administrative remedies, including filing complaints with state or federal agencies. In New Hampshire, whistleblowers may file complaints with the Department of Labor or the PELRB.

Penalties for Employer Retaliation

Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers may face specific penalties under the

Whistleblowers Protection Act and other statutory protections. These penalties include reinstatement, back-pay, attorney fees, compensatory damages, and civil penalties.

In summary, New Hampshire provides several protections for whistleblowers, including statutory and common law protections, whistleblower hotlines, filing complaints, and penalties for employer retaliation. By understanding these laws and resources, whistleblowers can make informed decisions and help ensure that their whistleblower rights are protected.

In conclusion, whistleblowing protections in New Hampshire are vital for upholding accountability and safeguarding the public interest. This article explored the range of protections available, including common law exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine and statutory safeguards such as the

Whistleblowers Protection Act.

We discussed the significance of whistleblower hotlines and the process of filing complaints, as well as the potential penalties that employers may face for retaliation. It is crucial for whistleblowers to understand their rights and utilize available resources to ensure their protection.

By fostering a culture that supports and values whistleblowing, we can promote transparency and hold wrongdoers accountable, ultimately creating a safer and more ethical work environment for all.

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