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Wisconsin senator proposes new whistleblower protection law

At the end of February 2016, a senator from Wisconsin and a congressman from Maryland proposed an act designed to augment legal protections for some whistleblowers. Specifically, the new law, known as the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Nonretaliation Act, or the WARN Act of 2016, would change other existing laws to provide more rights for people who alert the authorities to misconduct by financial services entities.

Should the WARN Act be enacted, it will force employers to give training on the updated rules and create internal systems for reporting and investigating violations. Bosses will also need to improve the way they deal with employee retaliation claims and protect whistleblower rights. Changes to other laws would also demand that employers post information about worker rights online. Notably, employees who become the victims of employment discrimination or unfair treatment after making reports would be eligible for back pay with interest, court costs and other amounts.

The WARN Act also seeks to override some existing definitions of what constitutes a whistleblower on the grounds that current guidelines are too narrow. In some cases, employers have used these definitions to their advantage to claim that prohibitions against retaliating against whistleblowers didn't apply to certain workers who brought light to violations.

Whistleblowers who report corporate wrongdoings may place themselves at risk in the process. Their employers could terminate them unfairly or create hostile work environments in an attempt to pressure them into quitting. In other cases, employers who receive internal reports merely ignore the situations that prompted them, which could contribute to continued harassment or disparate treatment. These employees may want to meet with an employment law attorney in order to learn about the rights that they have.

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