Virginia’s New Whistleblower Law Increases Protections for Whistleblowers

On April 11th, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia signed House Bill 798 into law. The act strengthens the whistleblower protections for Virginia workers, specifically in the realm of retaliation. HB 798, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney, states that an employer cannot conduct retaliatory measures such as threatening, firing, discriminating against the employee, etc. (Full text of the law linked here).

The act outlines its limitations regarding retaliation, including that an employee who “alleges a violation of this section may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction within one year of the employer’s prohibited retaliatory action.”

HB 798 is a marked improvement from Virginia’s whistleblower laws. Virginia was operating on an “employment-at-will doctrine.” Employment-at-will means that either the employer or employee may terminate the working relationship at any time and without cause unless the firing violates public policy. This law left a lot of leeway in firing practices and not enough protections for employees who might have blown the whistle but suffered retaliation from their employers.

This law will take effect July 1, 2020.

Read more about HB 798:

Press release: Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support Virginia Workers

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