Kansas Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower laws at the state level in Kansas

A Summary of Kansas Whistleblower Laws

The state of Kansas follows the employment-at-will doctrine, which means employers can be discharged from work for any reason or no reason. However, the state also has two exceptions to this doctrine. They include common law protections and statutory protections. Common law protections are laws that are created in courts to address areas that are not covered by enacted laws, whereas statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature to address specific subject areas, e.g., age discrimination.

This is a summary of Kansas Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in Kansas

Common Law Whistleblower Protections in Kansas

Kansas has a public policy which it uses to protect employees under certain circumstances. Under the public policy, some activities are considered protected activities. This means employers are not allowed to discharge their employees for engaging in protected activities since this will result in a violation of public policy. Generally, Kansas courts consider many activities as protected, however the courts have specifically addressed two activities as protected. These are filing a claim for workers’ compensation and whistleblowing.

Workers’ Compensation

It is against public policy for an employer to discharge an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, employees must prove the following to be protected under public policy:

  • A workers’ compensation claim was filed.
  • The employee suffered an injury eligible for workers’ compensation.
  • The employer was aware of the injury.
  • The employee was discharged because he or she filed or might have filed a workers’ compensation claim.

Also, it may help to note that employees who suffered other forms of retaliation such as suspensions have been protected in the past.

Whistleblowing

Employers are not allowed to discharge an employee in retaliation for disclosing the carrying out of outlawed activities that violate a rule, regulation, or statutes concerning public health and safety by the employer or co-worker. However, the following conditions have to be met to be eligible for protection under the public policy:

  • The disclosure should be made to a supervisor or law enforcement agency.
  • The employee is required to identify the specific rule, regulation, or statute that the employer is suspected of violating.

Also, employees are still protected if it turns out that no law was violated as long as the whistleblowing was done in good faith and under reasonable belief.

Statutory Protections

Kansas Whistleblower Act

No supervisor or appointing authority of any state agency is allowed to prevent an employee from discussing operations of the state agency or other matters of public concern (e.g., public health and safety) with a member of the legislature or an auditing agency. Also, no supervisor or appointing authority of any state agency is allowed to prevent an employee of a state agency from disclosing a violation of state or federal rule, law, or regulation to any person, agency, or organization. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 75-2973.

Protection for Testifying Before the Secretary of Labor

It is against the law for a person, firm, or corporation to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee because the employee:

May testify as a witness before the Secretary of Labor.

Intends to file a complaint or intends to bring to the attention of the secretary of labor a matter of controversy between the employer and employees. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 44-615.

Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of Persons in Adult Family Homes or Care Facility

Under this statute, employers are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for making a report or participating in an investigation or proceeding concerning abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult who is in need of protective services. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 39-1403.

Discrimination

It is unlawful for an employer to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Opposing discriminatory practices.
  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Testifying or participating in a proceeding under this statute.

Under this statute, it is illegal for an employer to discharge, refuse to hire, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, or ancestry. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 44-1009.

Age Discrimination

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Opposing practices outlawed by this statute.
  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Testifying or participating in a proceeding under this statute.

Under this statute, employers are not allowed to discharge, refuse to hire, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an individual because of the individual’s age. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 44-1113.

Malpractice in Health care

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for reporting information concerning conditions that are below the applicable standard of care or an act that would call for disciplinary action from a licensing agency. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-4928.

Occupational Safety and Health

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint with the Secretary of Labor.
  • Disclosing information concerning dangerous conditions to the Secretary of Labor.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 44-636.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Kansas

To file a complaint under the discrimination statutes, call the Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) at 785-296-3206.

To file a complaint under the Kansas Whistleblower Act, call the state civil service board at 225-342-8272.

To file a complaint under Occupational Safety and Health, call the Secretary of Labor at  

(785) 296-4386.

To file a complaint concerning any other retaliation action with regards to employment, call the Kansas Department of Labor at (785) 296-0901.

Retaliation Claims in Kansas

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, retaliation claims should be filed within 2 years of the retaliation.

Kansas Whistleblower Act

Claims under this act should be filed with the state civil service board within 90 days of the retaliatory action.

Discrimination and Age Discrimination

Complaints under these statutes should be filed with the Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) within 6 months of the retaliation.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Kansas

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for a combination or any of the following:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and privileges.
  • Litigation costs.
  • Punitive damages
  • Plus any other form of compensation the court deems appropriate.

Kansas Whistleblower Act

Individuals who violate this act may receive the following punishment::

  • Suspension without pay for a maximum of 30 days.
  • In the case of willful or repeated violations, the individual may be discharged and be barred from being a state employee for not more than 2 years.

Whistleblower Protection Testimony Before Secretary of Labor

Employers who willfully violate this statute by carrying out retaliatory action against an employee may be found guilty of a misdemeanor. They may be punished by a fine not more than $1000 or be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 1 year, or be punished by both fine and jail term.

Health Care Medical Malpractice

Employers who carry out retaliatory violation in violation of this act may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Damages to compensate for benefits or wages lost due to the retaliatory action.
  • A civil penalty not exceeding the total amount of damages payable.

Occupational Safety and Health

Employers who carry out retaliatory action in violation of this statute may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and may be liable to pay a fine ranging from $25 to $100. Uncorrected violations can amount to a separate offense for each day that they remain uncorrected.

Click for an overview of Federal Whistleblower Laws .

More Kansas Laws

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