Louisiana Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower laws in Louisiana at the state level

A Summary of Louisiana Whistleblower Laws

The state of Louisiana follows the employment-at-will doctrine. Under this doctrine, employees can be fired for any reason or no reason. However, Louisiana has put in place exceptions to this doctrine to protect employees from wrongful termination or retaliatory actions. The state’s legislature has adopted statutory protections to protect employees who engage in certain activities. Some of these statutes include a general whistleblower law for all employees, environmental violations statute, and public employees statutes. Louisiana also has several other statutes that cover retaliatory actions against employees. These include workers’ compensation, health care employees, etc.

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

Whistleblower Rights in Louisiana

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in Louisiana

General Louisiana Whistleblower Law for All Employees

Under this statute, employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing or threatening to disclose a workplace act or practice that is outlawed by a state law.
  • Providing information to a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry concerning a violation of a law.
  • Testifying before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry concerning a violation of a law.
  • Refusing to participate in an employment practice that would result in a violation of a law.

Before disclosing a violation of a law or carrying out any form of whistleblowing, employees are required to first advise their employer of the violation of the law. Also, the employee is required to make the disclosure in good faith and be certain that the employer’s acts were in violation of a law. La. Rev. Stat. § 23:967.

Public Employees

Public employers and employees with authority to fire or discipline other employees are not allowed to discipline, threaten to discipline, or carry out any form of reprisal against an employee because the employee reported:

  • A violation of a law, rule, or regulation.
  • Alleged acts of impropriety in public employment.

La. Rev. Stat.§ 42:1169.

Environmental Violations

Individual employers, firms, government agencies, and other business entities are not allowed to carry out any form of retaliation against employees who in good faith:

  • Disclose a practice by the employer or another employer with whom there is a business relationship that is in violation of an environmental rule, law, or regulation.
  • Provide information to a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry concerning a violation by the employer or another employer with whom there is a business relationship of an environmental law, rule, or regulation.

Employees are required to make disclosures to either a supervisor or a public body. La. Rev. Stat. § 30:2027.

Health Care Employees

Healthcare providers and government agencies are not allowed to in any way discriminate against or retaliate against an employee because the employee provided information to the Department of Hospitals with the aim of aiding the department to fulfill its responsibilities. La. Rev. Stat. § 40:2009.17.

Sexual Abuse of a Minor

No employer is allowed to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any way discriminate against an employee because the employee has reported the sexual abuse of a minor child by a fellow employee to law enforcement. La. Rev. Stat. § 23:968.

Oil Spill Relief

Under this statute, employees cannot be discharged or in any way be discriminated against because the employee took action to aid in the recovery of oil spill relief funds which were acquired in a fraudulent manner.  La. Rev. Stat. § 39:2165.12.

Hurricane Relief

Under this statute, employees cannot be discharged or in any way be discriminated against because the employee took action to aid in the recovery of hurricane relief funds which were acquired in a fraudulent manner.  La. Rev. Stat. § 39:2163.

Insurer Employees

Insurers in Louisiana are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee because the employee reported in good faith to the commissioner of insurance or other relevant authorities, a violation of this statute or other laws concerning insurance. La. Rev. Stat. § 22:14.

Labor Investigations & Proceedings

It is against the law for employers to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for providing information or testifying in a proceeding or investigation concerning the enforcement of the state’s labor laws. La. Rev. Stat. § 23:964.

Workers’ Compensation

No firm, corporation, or person is allowed to discharge or refuse to hire an individual because the individual has filed a workers’ compensation claim under Louisiana law, federal law, or any other state’s law. La. Rev. Stat. § 23:1361.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Louisiana

To file a complaint under the Labor Investigations & Proceedings statute, call the Louisiana Workforce Commission at (225) 342-3111.

To file a complaint concerning oil spill relief programs, call the Attorney General’s office at 225-326-6709.

To file a complaint under the public employees statute, call the Louisiana Board of Ethics at (225) 219-5600 or 1-800-842-6630.

Retaliation Claims in Louisiana

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, whistleblowers who believe they have suffered unlawful retaliation are required to file a lawsuit within 1 year of the retaliation. The 1 year period does not apply to minors.

General Whistleblower Law for All Employees

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed in an appropriate court within 1 year of the retaliation.

Environmental Violations

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed in an appropriate court within 1 year of the retaliation.

Health Care Employees

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed in an appropriate court within 1 year of the retaliation.

Workers’ Compensation

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed in an appropriate court within 1 year of the retaliation.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Louisiana

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:

  • Damages, e.g., lost wages.
  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and privileges.
  • Litigation costs.
  • Plus any other civil and criminal remedies deemed appropriate by the court.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs and a civil penalty equivalent to the amount the employee would have earned if the discrimination had not occurred. The penalty will be based upon the starting salary of the job position to which the complainant applied or the earnings of the employee at the time of the discharge, and it will also be capped at one year’s earnings.

Insurer Employees

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable for a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Environmental Violations

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Triple damages.
  • Litigation costs including reasonable attorney fees.
  • Plus any other civil and criminal remedies deemed appropriate by the court.

The damage payable by the offender is restricted to the period of the damage and is capped at 3 years.

Labor Investigations & Proceedings

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable for a fine ranging from $100 and $250 or a prison term of 30-90 days, or both.

Health Care Employees

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction be punished by a fine ranging from $100 to $500.

Hurricane Relief

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for treble damages. Also, violators of this statute may receive the following punishment:

  • Payment of actual damages equal to the difference between the value of the benefits received by the person from hurricane relief programs and the value of the benefits that the person should have received if he or she had not committed the violation.
  • Civil fine not exceeding 3 times the amount of damage sustained by the hurricane relief programs.
  • A civil penalty not exceeding $10,000 for each violation.
  • Litigation costs including attorney fees related to the investigations and proceedings of the violation.

Oil Spill Relief

Whistleblowers who provide information concerning fraud and abuse of funds related to oil relief programs to the attorney general may receive a reward of up to two thousand dollars. Qui tam plaintiffs (whistleblowers who sue on behalf of the state), may receive 10-20% of the actual damages and civil fines awarded by the court. However, the amount awarded to the plaintiff may vary according to the plaintiff’s amount of contribution in the case.

Public Employees

Employers who violate this statute by carrying out unlawful retaliation against an employee may receive the following punishments:

  • Removal from job position.
  • A suspension.
  • A demotion.
  • Be censured.
  • A reduction in pay or a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both.

More Louisiana Laws

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