The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee approved a bill this week exposing employers and municipalities to potentially unprecedented liability and compliance costs.
SB 929 broadens conditions under which employees can bring action against employers by adding protections for employees who object or refuse to participate in activity they "reasonably believe" constitutes a violation or suspected violation of any:
- State or federal law or regulation
- Municipal ordinance or regulation
- Court order
The committee approved the bill on a 26-20 vote, sending it to the Senate.
A fiscal note attached to the bill indicates it could raise local property taxes based on the potential for increasing municipalities' exposure to lawsuits.
The bill also extends from 90 to 180 days the time an employee may sue if discharged or disciplined in violation of the statute after exhausting all available administrative remedies.
And the bill establishes new penalties in civil actions for violations of the statute.
In addition to reinstatement and back pay, employees can get compensatory damages, future economic damages, punitive damages, and have records of discipline removed from personnel files—if the employer's conduct is deemed willful or intentional.
Current law strikes the right balance between protecting an employee from retaliation while also protecting an employer from frivolous and baseless complaints.
CBIA encourages you to express your opinion on SB 929 by sending an email to your senator.