Summary of Alabama Whistleblower laws
The state of Alabama is among the few states which follow the at-will employment doctrine. In addition, Alabama courts do not recognize the public policy exception law, which is a law that is a remedy to the at-will employment doctrine. This means an employer can dismiss an employee for any reason, even if the reason violates the public policy exception law. However, exceptions can apply when the reason for dismissal violates a statutory exception.
This is a summary of Alabama Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.
Whistleblower Rights in Alabama
Alabama Statutory exceptions
Alabama has a few statutory exceptions which are quite limited. These statutory protections only cover age discrimination, child labor, and workers’ compensation.
Under this statute, employers are not allowed to dismiss an employee for opposing unlawful age discrimination. Employees will also not be discharged in retaliation for being involved in the proceedings, hearing, or investigations that relate to the state’s age discrimination law. Ala. Code § 25-1-28.
Under this statute, employers are not allowed to dismiss an employee for opposing child labor law violations. Employees will also not be discharged in retaliation for reporting violations of the child labor law or for being involved in the proceedings, hearing, or investigations related to Alabama’s child labor law. Ala. Code § 25-8-57.
An employer is not allowed to terminate an employee in retaliation for the employee filing a workers’ compensation claim or for writing a notice of a safety violation rule. Ala. Code § 25-5-11.1.
Protection for State Employees in Alabama
Alabama’s state employees are protected by the State Employee Protection Act. This act prohibits any form of retaliation by the employee’s supervisor against the employee for engaging in protected activities. A protected activity refers to when an employee reports a violation of a rule, regulation, or state law. Ala. § 36-26A-3.
Federal Protection Under The False Claims Act in Alabama
The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers who expose fraudulent activity that is done to defraud the federal government. Most of these fraudulent activities involve false payment claims related to Medicare, Medicaid, or federal contracts. The act also awards whistleblowers with a portion of the recovered money (usually between 10-30 %).
Whistleblower Hotline in Alabama
The hotline for reporting Medicaid fraud in Alabama is 888.742.7248. To report violations of Alabama’s child labor law, you can call the Alabama Department of Labor at (205) 2613-361.
To report a violation of safety rules, call the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 800-321-6742. In case you want to report workplace discrimination concerning public agencies or private employers, you are required to call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000.
Whistleblower Retaliation Claim in Alabama
Whistleblowers in Alabama cannot pursue compensation or recovery through a state agency. However, they are required to file a lawsuit within 2 years of the retaliation.
Retaliation Penalties in Alabama
Penalties under the State Employment Protection Act
In the case of retaliation against state employees, a court may order the payment of back wages, front wages, and compensation damages, or a combination of any of these payments.
Alabama Statutory Exceptions Penalties
If found guilty, an employer may be ordered by a court to pay compensatory and punitive damages to the employee. In cases involving age discrimination, an employee can choose to pursue remedies such as compensatory damages or pursue a remedy in the form of equitable relief. Employers found guilty of child labor violations may receive a penalty ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the section of the statutory provision that was violated by the employer. AL Code 25-8-59
Penalties under the False Claims Act
Employees who suffer retaliation for reporting a violation or possible fraud may be awarded 2 times their back wages plus interest, reinstatement of employment, litigation costs and attorney fees, and compensatory damages. As for organizations or persons found guilty of fraud, a penalty of 3 times the amount of the false claim may be imposed and also an additional penalty of $5,500.00 to $11,000.00 per false claim made.
Click for an overview of the Federal Whistleblower Laws.
More Alabama Laws