Whistleblower State laws

States continue to bolster whistleblower protections: PEER analysis

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Washington — Most states have expanded their whistleblower protection laws over the past 12 years, including 10 states that have done so in their most recent legislative sessions, according to an analysis by watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Since PEER first began rating state disclosure laws in 2006, about two-thirds of the states have enhanced or widened their whistleblower statutes, and none of the states has repealed or weakened those laws, the group states in a June 27 press release.

PEER highlights three examples of recently enhanced whistleblower laws:

  • Oregon now requires all employees to be notified of their whistleblower rights and has made whistleblower violations a misdemeanor.
  • Colorado extended protections to employees of state contractors.
  • South Dakota added protected disclosures to its State Government Accountability Board.

Although every state has whistleblower laws, PEER notes that they vary widely: 13 states don’t consider employees’ reports of dangers to public health and safety protected whistleblower activities, and 14 don’t consider reports of wasted public funds protected activities. Only 13 states protect employees who inform the media, seven states protect disclosures on ethical violations and two states “address breaches of scientific integrity.”

“Whistleblower laws are not just checks against official abuse, they are irreplaceable transparency mechanisms,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in the release. “Whistleblowing is a vital channel through which government workers can communicate with their true employers – the public.”

The PEER analysis includes a report card of each state’s laws and a chart detailing where all the states rank in different categories.

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