The Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (“RIWPA”), R.I.G.L. § 28-50-1, et seq. applies to employers of one or more employees, including state and municipal government agencies. Under the RIWPA, employees in Rhode Island are afforded protection for engaging in certain protected activity described below. The RIWPA makes it unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity, and covers actions such as termination, demotion, wage reduction, failure to promote, and write-ups, to name a few.
The RIWPA makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who discloses information to his or her employer, such as to a supervisor or HR, or to a government or law enforcement agency. Under the RIWPA, employers cannot retaliate against an employee who participates in an investigation of unlawful activity or refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal laws, rules, or regulations.
A “whistleblower” employee is only protected under the RIWPA if he or she had reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed was, in fact, a violation of state or federal laws, rules, or regulations.
If an employer violates any portion of the RIWPA, the employer may be liable to the employee in a civil lawsuit. Under the RIWPA, an employer may be liable to the employee for injunctive relief, back pay (in the case of a termination), actual damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
If you or someone you know believe you have been retaliated against for reporting illegal conduct at work, please contact us to discuss your matter.