SB 0871 Creates a cause of action for wrongful discharge or employment
LR Number:3174S.01I Fiscal Note:3174-01
Committee:Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence
Last Action:01/12/04 - Second Read and Referred S Judiciary and Civil & Journal page:S91
Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Effective Date:August 28, 2004
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Current Bill Summary

SB 871 - This act creates a cause of action for wrongful discharge. Employees may sue for wrongful discharge if:

The employee is discharged for refusing to violate the law or public policy;

The employer violated its own written personnel policy in dismissing the employee; or

The employer deviates from a customary practice used for the dismissal of employees.

An employee may be discharged at will during a probationary period, which may not exceed 12 months. Employees maintain the burden of proof in wrongful discharge suits. Damages available to the employee include back wages and benefits, plus interest, when the employer violates its own personnel policy or customary practices regarding dismissal. When an employee claims the discharge was in retaliation for the employee's refusal to violate the law or public policy, punitive damages and compensatory damages for physical and mental distress are available. Employers subject to the bill include those employing 15 or more people at least 20 weeks per year and the state and its political subdivisions. The bill excludes federal employees and may not amend or negate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Employees must exhaust an employer's established internal procedures which may not exceed 90 days before filing a suit. Lawsuits must be filed within one year of the date of discharge, but internal procedures will toll that date for up to 180 days. Any party to such a suit may demand a jury trial.

This act is identical to HB 1067 (2002).