On April 11, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law HB798, which protects workers from retaliation for reporting to a supervisor or any governmental body violations or suspected violations of federal or state law, refusing to engage in a criminal act or carry out an order that would violate federal or state law, or engaging in participatory protected conduct. HB798 authorizes a whistleblower to bring a civil action seeking injunctive relief, reinstatement, and uncapped compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other remuneration. HB798 will become effective on July 1, 2020.
Prior to the enactment of HB798, Virginia law offered very limited statutory protection for whistleblowers, and Virginia’s common law wrongful discharge tort was a narrow exception to at-will employment that failed to provide a remedy to many whistleblowers that were fired for whistleblowing. In particular, the Bowman wrongful discharge tort was generally limited to terminations that violate a public policy contained within Virginia’s statutes (not federal statutes). HB798 is not as strong as some other state whistleblower protection laws, but it is a monumental step forward for whistleblower rights in Virginia.Read more here.