When most people think of wrongful termination they think of discrimination. The employer has fired an employee based on his age, race, religion or gender. These are protected classes of employees under both federal and state law. However, there is another class given protection under Louisiana law — those employees who refuse to go along with an employer’s violation of law. It’s important for employees to realize they can’t be fired or even reprimanded for reporting an employer’s illegal activity. The specific statute is below. It prohibits reprisal or retaliation by an employer against an employee for either reporting unlawful conduct, providing information in an investigation of unlawful conduct or refusing to go along with illegal conduct.
This is an exception to the “at will” employment doctrine that many may not be aware of. The types of cases that can arise under this law are as varied as the laws which can be broken. We have handled cases against restaurants for health law violations, manufacturers for safety law violations and nursing homes for rights violations.
§ 23:967. Employee protection from reprisal; prohibited practices; remedies
A. An employer shall not take reprisal against an employee who in good faith, and after advising the employer of the violation of law:
(1) Discloses or threatens to disclose a workplace act or practice that is in violation of state law.
(2) Provides information to or testifies before any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any violation of law.
(3) Objects to or refuses to participate in an employment act or practice that is in violation of law.
B. An employee may commence a civil action in a district court where the violation occurred against any employer who engages in a practice prohibited by Subsection A of this Section. If the court finds the provisions of Subsection A of this Section have been violated, the plaintiff may recover from the employer damages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs.
C. For the purposes of this Section, the following terms shall have the definitions ascribed below:
(1) “Reprisal” includes firing, layoff, loss of benefits, or any discriminatory action the court finds was taken as a result of an action by the employee that is protected under Subsection A of this Section; however, nothing in this Section shall prohibit an employer from enforcing an established employment policy, procedure, or practice or exempt an employee from compliance with such.
(2) “Damages” include compensatory damages, back pay, benefits, reinstatement, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs resulting from the reprisal.
D. If suit or complaint is brought in bad faith or if it should be determined by a court that the employer’s act or practice was not in violation of the law, the employer may be entitled to reasonable attorney fees and court costs from the employee.