Louisiana lawmakers stall bill offering greater protection to whistleblowers

Louisiana lawmakers stalled a controversial bill this session that would have provided heightened protection to whistleblowers in the state. House Bill 364, authored by Rep. Walt Leger of New Orleans, purports to broadly prohibit employers in the state from taking any retaliatory action against an employee who blows the whistle on alleged unlawful activity in the workplace.

A whistleblower is a worker who discloses unlawful mismanagement, corruption or illegal activity taking place within the workplace to the government or the public. Typically, the reported activity must be in violation of a local, state or federal law. Many federal statutes offer broad protection to whistleblowers, especially government employees. State laws generally vary in terms of the level of protection offered to whistleblowers in the public and private sector.

Proponents of the House Bill 364 argue that the state’s current whistleblower protections are inadequate. Proponents argue that under current state law, a whistleblower receives no protection if the alleged illegal activity is not proven or if an employer wins its case, which in turn has a chilling effect on whistleblowers in the workplace. On the other hand, opponents of the bill suggest that the proposed legislation infringes on employers’ freedom to terminate employees who bring false accusations against their organization.

Although House Bill 364 stalled in committee, it remains possible that the bill could move forward in the next few weeks. For an employee, the decision to blow the whistle in the workplace can be very difficult. Before blowing the whistle, it is important to contact an attorney to first learn about your legal rights under federal or state law. For questions, contact Broussard & David at 888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-23-2323 (local).