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Protecting Whistleblowers: Laws and Remedies in North Carolina

Whistleblower Rights in North Carolina

Whistleblowers are individuals who come forward with information about illegal or unethical activities in their organization. Whistleblowers play a crucial role in promoting transparency and accountability in the workplace.

However, they also risk facing retaliation from their employers for their disclosures. Therefore, both common law and statutory protections exist in North Carolina to safeguard whistleblower rights.

Common Law Protections for Whistleblowers in North Carolina

The public policy doctrine is a common law protection that safeguards whistleblowers in North Carolina. It prohibits employers from discharging employees for refusing to engage in illegal activities, reporting such activities, or performing any duty that underlies public policy.

Therefore, if an employee faces wrongful termination, the employee can bring an action against the employer for violation of public policy.

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in North Carolina

North Carolina has several statutory protections for whistleblowers. The

Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) is one such provision that prohibits employer retaliation against employees who have filed a complaint internally or externally, testified, or otherwise participated in proceedings.

REDA allows whistleblowers to seek remedies such as reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys fees. Apart from REDA, the Public Employees Whistleblower Protection Act provides protection against employer retaliation to employees who disclose information regarding the misuse of public funds or resources.

The

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act prohibits retaliation against individuals with disabilities who challenge their employer’s disability policies. The

Retirement Income Security Act (RISA) provides statutory protections to whistleblowers who report dishonesty in retirement plans.

The Toxic or Hazardous Substances Act offers protection to employees who report violations of environmental or health hazards in the workplace. The Employment Security Act prohibits any adverse employment action against an employee who has filed an unemployment compensation claim.

Additionally, the Sexual Harassment Concerning School Employees provision prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report sexual harassment.

Retaliation Claims and Procedures

Whistleblowers are susceptible to retaliation from their employers, but they can pursue legal remedies to protect their rights. If an employee is wrongfully terminated, they can bring a claim under REDA, which requires them first to file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor.

This complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged retaliatory action. The Department then has sixty days to investigate and issue a final determination.

If the Department fails to issue a final determination, the employee can request a right-to-sue letter, allowing them to pursue legal action in court. Similarly, under the

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act, if an employee suffers retaliation, they can either file a lawsuit or seek administrative proceedings before a North Carolina Human Relations Commission.

The employee must also file a complaint within 180 days of the retaliatory action. Likewise, the employee can also pursue a lawsuit under federal law to enforce the

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act.

Whistleblower Hotlines in North Carolina

North Carolina Department of Labor operates several whistleblower hotlines where employees can report illegal activities in their workplace and seek advice on filing a complaint. Additionally, there are several national hotlines that offer resources and support for whistleblowers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both common law and statutory protections exist in North Carolina to safeguard the rights of whistleblowers. If an employee suffers retaliation, they can pursue legal remedies by filing complaints with the North Carolina Department of Labor or bringing a lawsuit.

Although whistleblowing can be risky, it is vital for promoting transparency and accountability in the workplace. Therefore, it is crucial for employees to know their rights and have the courage to speak out against any wrongdoing.

Whistleblowing can be a daunting task for employees, but it is an essential activity since it promotes transparency and accountability in the workplace. Unfortunately, whistleblowers may sometimes face retaliation from their employers.

North Carolina has enacted various laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation and provide for penalties when an employer violates these laws.

Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act

The

Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) is the primary law that protects whistleblowers in North Carolina. REDA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in whistleblowing activities.

An employer who violates REDA is liable for various penalties, including injunctive relief, reinstatement, and payment of damages.

Injunctive Relief

An employee who has suffered retaliation under REDA can seek injunctive relief from the court. Injunctive relief is a court order that forces the employer to stop engaging in retaliation.

The court can order the employer to reinstate the employee to their former position or provide any other necessary relief.

Reinstatement

In some cases, the court may require the employer to reinstate the employee to their former position.

Reinstatement is a remedy designed to put the employee back in the same or equivalent position they held before the retaliation occurred.

This remedy is designed to ensure that employees are not unfairly punished for whistleblowing.

Payment of Damages

An employer who violates REDA is also liable to pay damages to the employee. Damages may include lost wages, lost benefits, economic losses, and any other losses resulting from the retaliation.

In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages to the employee if it finds that the employer acted with malice or gross negligence.

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act

The

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act (PWDPA) is another law that protects employees from retaliation. This law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who challenge their employer’s disability policies or assist in investigations of disability violations.

As with REDA, an employer who violates PWDPA is liable for various penalties, including declaratory and injunctive relief, reinstatement, and payment of damages.

Declaratory Relief

Declaratory relief is a court order that clarifies the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in a dispute. In the case of a PWDPA violation, declaratory relief may order the employer to recognize the employee’s rights under the law.

Declaratory relief is a useful remedy when the employee is unsure of their legal rights or the scope of the employer’s obligations.

Injunctive Relief

Similar to REDA, an employee who has suffered retaliation under PWDPA can seek injunctive relief from the court. Injunctive relief can include reinstatement and restoration of any lost benefits.

The court may also order the employer to cease any discriminatory practices that led to the retaliation.

Reinstatement and Back Pay

Under PWDPA, an employee who has suffered retaliation can seek reinstatement to their former position or a similar position.

Reinstatement is a powerful remedy since it provides the employee with job security and ensures they are not unfairly punished for their whistleblowing activities.

The employee may also be entitled to back pay, which is compensation for the wages they lost while they were out of work.

Retirement

The

Retirement Income Security Act (RISA) is a federal law that protects employees who report dishonesty in retirement plans. RISA provides a private right of action for employees who have suffered retaliation because of their whistleblowing activities.

An employer who violates RISA is liable for similar penalties as REDA and PWDPA.

Reinstatement and Back Pay

Under RISA, an employee who has suffered retaliation can seek reinstatement to their former position. The court may also require the employer to provide back pay, which is compensation for the wages and benefits the employee lost as a result of the retaliation.

Interest on Back Pay

In some cases, the court may also award interest on back pay. Interest compensates the employee for the time value of money they lost while they were out of work.

Interest can add up quickly, especially since RISA allows for the award of compound interest.

Conclusion

The laws in North Carolina provide robust protections for whistleblowers, including REDA, PWDPA, and RISA. These laws are designed to encourage employees to speak up about wrongdoing and prevent retaliation from employers.

An employer who violates these laws faces stiff penalties, including injunctive relief, reinstatement, and payment of damages. Whistleblowers should be aware of these protections and use them to protect their rights if they face retaliation.

In conclusion, whistleblowers play a crucial role in promoting transparency and accountability in the workplace, but they often face retaliation from their employers. However, North Carolina has enacted several laws, including the

Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act,

Persons With Disabilities Protection Act, and

Retirement Income Security Act, to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

An employer who violates these laws faces stiff penalties, including injunctive relief, reinstatement, and payment of damages. Whistleblowers should be aware of these protections and use them to protect their rights if they face retaliation.

Ultimately, these protections encourage employees to speak up about wrongdoing and promote a culture of ethical behavior in the workplace.

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