On April 12, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a new sweeping provision that prohibits retaliation against employees who complain about any violations of the law and participate in inquires performed by government bodies. Specifically, employers may not retaliate against an employee because he or she:
- Makes a good faith report of a violation of any federal or state law or regulation to their supervisor, a government body, or law enforcement official. For example, this would include any complaint that the employer failed to pay the employee’s wages in violation of Virginia’s Wage Theft law, or that the employee is being subjected to discrimination in violation of state or federal law.
- Is requested by a governmental body or law-enforcement official to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry.
- Refuses to engage in a criminal act that would subject the employee to criminal liability.
- Refuses an employer’s order to perform an action that violates any federal or state law or regulation and the employee informs the employer that the order is being refused for that reason.
- Provides information to or testifies before any governmental body or law-enforcement official conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any alleged violation by the employer of federal or state law or regulation.
This law went into effect on July 1, 2020. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against can file a lawsuit within one year of the employer’s retaliation. If successful, they could be awarded compensation for lost wages, benefits, and attorney fees and costs.
If you have any questions about possible retaliation by your employer and would like to speak with an attorney, contact Jeremy Greenberg, Esq.