A. No employer may discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against a whistle blower whether acting on his own or through a person acting on his behalf or under his direction.
Terms Used In Virginia Code 2.2-3011
- Abuse: means an employer's or employee's conduct or omissions that result in substantial misuse, destruction, waste, or loss of funds or resources belonging to or derived from federal, state, or local government sources. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Appropriate authority: means a federal, state, or local agency or organization having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement, regulatory violations, professional conduct or ethics, or abuse; or a member, officer, agent, representative, or supervisory employee of the agency or organization. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Employee: means any person who is regularly employed full time on either a salaried or wage basis, whose tenure is not restricted as to temporary or provisional appointment, in the service of and whose compensation is payable, no more often than biweekly, in whole or in part, by a governmental agency. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Employer: means a person supervising one or more employees, including the employee filing a good faith report, a superior of that supervisor, or an agent of the governmental agency. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Misconduct: means conduct or behavior by an employee that is inconsistent with state, local, or agency standards for which specific corrective or disciplinary action is warranted. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Person: includes any individual, corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, limited liability company, trust, joint venture, government, political subdivision, or any other legal or commercial entity and any successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality thereof. See Virginia Code 2.2-1122
- Whistle blower: includes a citizen of the Commonwealth who witnesses or has evidence of wrongdoing or abuse and who makes or demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that he is about to make a good faith report of, or testifies or is about to testify to, the wrongdoing or abuse to an appropriate authority. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
- Wrongdoing: means a violation, which is not of a merely technical or minimal nature, of a federal or state law or regulation, local ordinance, or a formally adopted code of conduct or ethics of a professional organization designed to protect the interests of the public or employee. See Virginia Code 2.2-1604
B. No employer may discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against a whistle blower, in whole or in part, because the whistle blower is requested or subpoenaed by an appropriate authority to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry by an appropriate authority or in a court action.
C. To be protected by the provisions of this chapter, an employee who discloses information about suspected wrongdoing or abuse shall do so in good faith and upon a reasonable belief that the information is accurate. Disclosures that are reckless or the employee knew or should have known were false, confidential by law, or malicious shall not be deemed good faith reports and shall not be protected.
D. In addition to the remedies provided in § 2.2-3012, any whistle blower may bring a civil action for violation of this section in the circuit court of the jurisdiction where the whistle blower is employed. In a proceeding commenced against any employer under this section, the court, if it finds that a violation was willfully and knowingly made, may impose upon such employer that is a party to the action, whether a writ of mandamus or injunctive relief is awarded or not, a civil penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $2,500, which amount shall be paid into the Fraud and Abuse Whistle Blower Reward Fund. The court may also order appropriate remedies, including (i) reinstatement to the same position or, if the position is filled, to an equivalent position; (ii) back pay; (iii) full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights; or (iv) any combination of these remedies. The whistle blower may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. No action brought under this subsection shall be brought more than three years after the date the unlawful discharge, discrimination, or retaliation occurs. Any whistle blower proceeding under this subsection shall not be required to exhaust existing internal procedures or other administrative remedies.
E. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an employer from disciplining or discharging a whistle blower for his misconduct or any violation of criminal law.
F. No court shall have jurisdiction over an action brought under § 8.01-216.5 based on information discovered by a present or former employee of the Commonwealth during the course of his employment unless that employee first, in good faith, has exhausted existing internal procedures for reporting and seeking recovery of the falsely claimed sums through official channels and unless the Commonwealth failed to act on the information provided within a reasonable period of time.