A Summary of Arizona Whistleblower laws
The state of Arizona has several laws that are designed to protect whistleblowers. However, the employment-at-will doctrine is still practiced; this means employees can be fired at will unless the reason for dismissal is against a statute, contract, or constitutional provision. The Arizona legislature passed the Arizona Employment Protection Act (AEPA) to protect employees in the private sector from retaliation in the form of wrongful termination. In addition, Arizona adopted narrow statutory protections with specified remedies for specific prohibited activities. AEPA does not cover any form of retaliation unless it is a discharge. In instances where a statute does not provide a specific remedy, an employee can file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
This is a summary of Arizona Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.
Whistleblower rights in Arizona
Arizona Employment Protection Act
An employee cannot be discharged in retaliation if the employee discloses that he or she has information or has a reasonable belief that the employer or a fellow employee has violated, will violate, or is violating the state’s statutes or the state’s constitution. However, for the protection to be valid, the employee (whistleblower) has to disclose the information to either the employer or a representative of the employer who the employee believes has the authority to stop or prevent the violation or to the relevant public body. Also, AEPA protects employees against other forms of retaliation such as:
An employee cannot be discharged for:
- Refusing to participate or carry out an act that would violate the statutes and constitution of Arizona.
- Refusing to join a labor organization.
- Exercising the right to vote, right to leave work, right to claim workers’ compensation, right to be free from the extortion of fees or gratuities as a condition of employment, and right to be free from coercion to purchase goods or supplies as a condition of employment.
While AEPA does not cover other forms of retaliation other than a discharge, if an employee leaves a job because the working conditions became extremely intolerable, AEPA can consider this as a ‘’constructive discharge’’ therefore protecting the employee under the act. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 23-1501.
Arizona Whistleblower Statutory Protections
Under this statute, an employer or state employee who has control over personnel actions is not allowed to discharge or perform any form of reprisal against a state employee for reporting a violation of any law, mismanagement, abuse of authority, or waste of funds to a public body. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 38-532
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against employees or job applicants in retaliation for opposing discriminatory actions. It is also illegal to discriminate against the employee in retaliation for making a charge, or assisting and participating in any manner in a proceeding related to Arizona’s civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1464.
Minimum Wages for minors
An employer cannot discharge or retaliate against an employee in any manner for serving, testifying, or assisting in a proceeding or investigation related to wages paid to minors. An employer accused of violating the minimum fair wage order may be charged with a petty offense or a class 3 misdemeanor. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 23-329.
Occupational Safety and Health Arizona Whistleblowers
An employee shall not be discharged or suffer any form of retaliation for filing a complaint or instituting a proceeding or testifying in a proceeding related to Arizona’s occupational safety and health laws on behalf of himself or others. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 23-425.
An employee shall not be discharged or suffer any form of retaliation for filing a complaint or instituting a proceeding or testifying in a proceeding related to Arizona pesticide control laws on behalf of himself or others. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 3-376.
Whistleblower Hotlines in Arizona
In case you suffer discrimination, you can submit a complaint by filling a questionnaire on the Arizona Civil Rights Division website or call the division’s office at Phoenix (602) 542-5263 or Tucson (520) 628-6500.
For issues concerning Occupational Safety and Health, call the Industrial Commission of Arizona at (602) 542-5795 Phoenix Office or (520) 628-5478 Tucson Office.
For retaliation or issues concerning pesticide control, call the attorney general’s office at Phoenix (602) 542-5025 or Tucson (520) 628-6504 or Prescott (928) 778-1265.
Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Arizona
Arizona Employment Protection Act
Generally, under the Arizona Employment Protection Act, an employee who has suffered retaliation in the form of discharge can file a lawsuit within one year of the retaliation, unless stated otherwise by a statute.
State employees are required to lodge a complaint with the relevant independent personnel board within 10 days of the retaliation.
Employees are required to file a complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division within 180 days of the retaliation. In case the division dismisses the complaint, the employee can file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the dismissal information. Also, lawsuits should be filed within one year of filing the complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division.
Occupational Safety and health
Employees who have suffered retaliation in a matter concerning this statute can file a complaint with the Industrial Commission of Arizona within 30 days of the retaliation. The commission is then required to notify the complainant of its determination within 90 days of the filing of the complaint.
A violation of this statute must be filed within 180 days after which the attorney general may bring a lawsuit against the employer after determining that a wrongful retaliation or termination occurred.
Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Arizona
Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employees who suffer retaliation may be awarded appropriate relief including rehiring, payment of back pay, covering of attorney fees, and punitive damages.
Employees who retaliate against other employees for reporting a violation under this statute or for being involved in a proceeding under this statute may be subject to a civil penalty of up to ten thousand dollars.
If a court determines a violation under this statute occurred, the court may award actual and compensatory damages, court costs, or preventive relief such as restraining order. As for the person responsible for the violation, the court may apply a civil penalty of not more than $5000 for the first violation and a penalty of $10,000 for subsequent violations.
Minimum Wages for minors
A person found guilty of violating this statute may be liable for the amount of wages due to the person affected by the violation. In case of a civil action, the court may award the balance of remaining wages plus covering of lawsuit costs.
Click for an overview of the Federal Whistleblower Laws .
More Arizona Laws