For the last several months, employers have been forced to learn how COVID-19 spreads, how to maintain or resume safe work environments, and how to navigate a complex web of new and existing laws and regulations implicated by the pandemic. Employers have also had to contend with a growing wave of COVID-19–related employment litigation.
In our previous article—What Virginia Employers Might Have Missed While Managing COVID-19: The Silent Labor and Employment Law Revolution—we detailed some of the most impactful labor and employment law changes enacted by the Virginia General Assembly this year. These included an increased minimum wage, local-level public employee bargaining, a new cause of action for misclassification, and an overhauled employment discrimination framework. But Virginia’s labor and employment law revolution did not stop there.
The Illinois Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) (Public Act 101-0221) is designed to protect employees, consultants, and contractors who truthfully report alleged unlawful discrimination and harassment or criminal conduct in the workplace by prohibiting nonnegotiable confidentiality obligations, waivers, and mandatory arbitration of allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for enforcing the whistleblower retaliation provisions of numerous laws protecting workers in a wide-range of industries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) added an anti-retaliation provision to the recordkeeping regulation finalized in May 2016, and it seems as if the workplace safety and health community has not stopped talking about it since.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s grant of summary judgment under the Louisiana whistleblower law, Louisiana Revised Statutes section 23:967, in favor of an employer that transferred an employee to a less desirable location after revealing concerns about her employer’s handling of a diabetic student.
On February 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the anti-retaliation provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act does not extend to an individual who has not reported a violation of the securities laws to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Answering a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the term “good faith,” as used in the whistleblower section of the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act (LEQA), refers to “an employee … acting with an honest belief that a violation of an environmental law, rule, or regulation occurred.” The case is particularly instructive because the phrase “good faith” is used in Louisiana’s general anti-reprisal statute.
A recent Louisiana Court of Appeal decision held that an oil and gas landman did not have a claim under the Louisiana environmental whistleblower statute, which protects employees from retaliation for reporting environmental law violations, since he was properly classified as an independent contractor by the defendant.