Senate Committee Substitute

SCS/SB 490 - This act codifies public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine. Employers are barred from discharging or retaliating against the following persons when their actions are a motivating factor in the discharge or retaliation:

• a person who reports an unlawful act of the employer or its agent to governmental or law enforcement agencies or the employee's supervisor or designated representative employed for the purposes of receiving reports from employees regarding unlawful activities;

• a person who reports, to an employer, serious misconduct of the employer or its agent that violates a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation promulgated pursuant to statute;

• a person who refuses to carry out a directive issued by an employer or its agent that, if completed, would be a violation of the law; or

• a person who engages in conduct otherwise protected by statute or regulation where the statute or regulation does not provide for a private right of action.

Employers are defined as any organization, partnership, political subdivision, corporation, or other legal entity with 6 or more employees.

Employees who are employed to report or provide professional opinion concerning the misconduct are also not covered under the act.

Employees have a private right of action for actual but not punitive damages under the act. Remedies allowed are backpay, reimbursement of medical bills incurred in treatment of mental anguish, and double those amounts as liquidated damages if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the employer's conduct was outrageous because of the employer's evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. The liquidated damages shall be treated as punitive damages and backpay and reimbursement shall be treated as compensatory damages in a bifurcated trial if requested by a party.

Any party may demand a trial by jury.

This act is similar to SCS/HCS/HB 1456 (2006), SCS/SB 168 (2007), SB 1046 (2008), HB 799 (2009), HB 227 (2009),SB 374 (2009), HB 1488 (2010), SS/SB 852 (2010), SCS/SB 188 (2011) that was vetoed by the Governor, HB 1219 (2012), SS/SCS/SB 592 (2012), HB 319 (2013), SB 353 (2013), and HCS/HB 320 (2013).


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