Nebraska Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower Laws as they apply to the state of Nebraska

A Summary of Nebraska Whistleblower Laws

Nebraska is an employment-at-will state. This means employees in Nebraska can be discharged from work for any reason or no reason. However, Nebraska has several exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine that are used to protect employees from wrongful discharge and retaliation. These exceptions include common law protections and statutory protections. Common law protections are laws that are created by courts to address subject areas that are not covered by enacted laws whereas statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature to cover specific subject areas, e.g., discrimination.

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

Whistleblower Rights in Nebraska

Common Law Protections for Whistleblowers in Nebraska

The state of Nebraska has a public policy that is recognized as an exception to the employment-at-will rule. An employee who gets discharged for reasons that violate public policy has a right to file a wrongful discharge suit. To determine if an employee is eligible for protection under the state’s public policy, the courts usually look at constitutional and statutory provisions that address situations that are similar to the employee’s. In some instances, the courts may rely on past judicial opinions before making a ruling. Generally, some activities are considered protected activities under Nebraska’s public policy. Some of these activities include:

  • Refusing to violate a criminal law.
  • Disclosing a violation of a criminal code.
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in Nebraska

Public Employees

Under this statute, persons with authority to take personnel action are not allowed to retaliate against an employee because:

  • The employee has disclosed information concerning a wrongdoing to the Public Counsel or official.
  • The employee has submitted an allegation of a violation of this statute or a wrongdoing to the Public Counsel or official.
  • The employee has provided information or testified in an investigation or hearing under this statute.

Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-2705.

Clean Indoor Air Act

No person or employer is allowed to discharge, refuse to hire, or in any way discriminate against an individual in retaliation for reporting or intending to report a violation of this act. Neb. Rev. Stat. 71-5732.

Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act

It is considered an unlawful employment practice for an employer to in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Opposing a practice that is considered unlawful under this act.
  • Making a charge under this act.
  • Testifying or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this act.
  • Opposing any practice or refusing to carry out any action considered unlawful by federal laws or state laws.
  • Inquiring about, disclosing, or discussing information regarding employee wages, benefits, or other compensation. However, this does not apply to situations where an employee who has authorized access to such information discloses such information to an individual who does not have authorized access to such information, unless the disclosure is in response to a charge, complaint or is meant to assist in an investigation, hearing or proceeding.

Under this act, discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, or national origin is prohibited. Also, this act does not apply to employers with less than 15 permanent employees, unless the employer receives funding from the state of Nebraska under the Investment Finance Authority Act. Neb. Rev. Stat.  48-1114.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

It is considered an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discharge, expel, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Opposing a practice considered unlawful by this act.
  • Filing a suit or a charge under this act.
  • Testifying or participating in a proceeding under this act.

Under this act, it is considered unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, alter terms of employment, discharge, or in any way discriminate against an individual because of the individual’s age when the reasonable demands of the position do not require such an age distinction. Neb. Rev. Stat.  48-1004.

Discriminatory Wage Practices Based On Sex

No person is allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Making a complaint under this statute to the employer, commission, or any other person.
  • Instituting a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this statute.

Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1227.

It is illegal for employers in Nebraska to discriminate against their employees by paying employees of a certain sex a certain wage even though employees of both sexes are working comparable jobs. Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1219.

Occupational Health and Safety

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for making an oral or written complaint to the employer’s safety committee or governmental agency that regulates occupational safety and health in workplaces. Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-443.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Nebraska

To file a complaint under the public employees statute, call the Public Counsel (Ombudsman’s Office) at 1-800-742-7690.

To file a complaint under the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the Discriminatory Wage Practices Based On Sex statute, call the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) at (402) 471-4895.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Nebraska

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, retaliation claims should be filed with the appropriate court within 4 years of the retaliatory action.

Public Employees

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Public Counsel (Ombudsman’s Office).

Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act

Aggrieved employees under this statute can file a complaint with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) or file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. Any action taken by the aggrieved employee to seek relief should be initiated within 300 days of the retaliatory action.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) within 4 years of the retaliatory action. The NEOC is supposed to investigate and initiate a lawsuit within 30 days of receiving the complaint. If this does not happen, the aggrieved employee can file a lawsuit with the appropriate court.

Discriminatory Wage Practices Based On Sex

Aggrieved employees under this statute can file a complaint with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) or file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. Any action taken by the aggrieved employee to seek relief should be initiated within 4 years of the retaliatory action.

Occupational Health and Safety

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed within 4 years of the retaliatory action.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Nebraska

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.
  • Injunctive relief.
  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • Plus any appropriate relief.

Occupational Health and Safety

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

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Lost wages and benefits.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Violators of this act or those who interfere with the Equal Opportunity Commission in its enforcement of this act may be found guilty of a Class III misdemeanor. The law states that no person can be imprisoned unless he or she commits a second or subsequent violation.

Public Employees

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

Back pay.

Reasonable attorney’s fees.

Plus any other relief deemed appropriate by the administrative body presiding over the case.

Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act

Upon finding that an employer has violated this act by carrying out unlawful retaliation against an employee, the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission may order the following affirmative relief:

  • Reinstatement or hiring of the complainant with or without back pay.
  • Cease and desist order.
  • Lost wages and benefits.
  • Plus any other appropriate relief.

Interim earnings which the employee could have earned with reasonable diligence can be used to reduce the back pay otherwise allowable.

If the complainant files a lawsuit with a district court, he or she may be awarded the following types of relief:

  • Temporary or permanent injunctive relief.
  • Damages.
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Plus any other appropriate relief.

Discriminatory Wage Practices Based On Sex

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be found guilty of a Class III misdemeanor.In addition, theymay be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Unpaid wages.
  • Damages.
  • Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

More Nebraska Laws

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