Public workers group ranks state whistleblower laws

Washington – Whistleblower protection laws are strongest in California, the District of Columbia and Tennessee, and weakest in Georgia, Indiana and South Dakota, according to a new analysis from advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Released Aug. 17, the analysis (.pdf file) ranked state laws based on 32 factors related to scope of coverage, usefulness and remedies against retaliation.

Ten states strengthened whistleblower protections in 2010, and another 10 have done so this year, a PEER press release said. The most significant changes occurred in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Tennessee, which adopted provisions to expand the types of issues covered under disclosure laws, lengthen the period for filing retaliation complaints and put the burden of proof on the employer.

PEER noted that although many states adopted stronger whistleblower protections, Congress has not passed reform legislation. In some states, workers have protections not afforded to federal workers, such as statutory shields for government scientists reporting suppression or manipulation of technical findings and the option of a jury trial.

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