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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I work State of. A co-worker filed a whistle blower

Customer Question

I work for the State of Washington. A co-worker filed a whistle blower complaint stating that he/she witness me doing real estate investing on my personal state computer on state time.
Because he/she is protected by the whistle blower regulation, I am not permitted to find out who the individual is.
My question is, if the individual's complaint is found not to be true, is he/she still protected under the whistle blower law?
Also, can I do a counter suit for the pain and suffering and legal costs I obtained?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

The Whistleblower statute protects employees who act or report information they reasonably believe to be accurate. It does not require that the employee's complaint be found to be true.

The penalty clause in the whistleblower statute allows for employment penalties (up to and including termination) for those employees that do not "make a reasonable attempt to ascertain the correctness" of the information they report.

As far as a civil suit against the employee, you could consider filing one (I would recommend at a minimum consulting with a local attorney before filing any kind of lawsuit over this matter), but your damages would be very limited ("pain and suffering" isn't really a strong damage claim for this kind of suit - that is usually reserved for personal injury claims where the plaintiff is actually physically injured, some courts are expanding that into the emotional torts, such as defamation, but the damage values are much less), and you would have to pay for your own attorney's fees (there is no fee shift for defamation suits).