Southwest Carolina’s Whistleblower Protections : A Review for SC Legal professionals, Lawyers & Legislation Firms

South Carolina whistleblowers who are used by a South Carolina state government agency are shielded from unwanted employment actions when they regular report violations of state or perhaps federal laws or perhaps any other wrongdoing or regulations. South Carolina attorneys, lawyers and law firms who represent SC state governing administration whistleblowers should be aware of the protections afforded to these staff members that are fired, demoted, suspended or perhaps normally subjected to an adverse action in response to a report of fraud or other wrongdoing by a public agency or even one of its employees or officers. South Carolina whistleblower attorneys, lawyers and also law firms must also be conscious of the management requirements required to invoke the protections of the state’s anti-retaliation statute, along with the comfort provisions afforded to certain SC whistleblowers. In addition there are a whistleblower protections for government and personal workers that say violations of South Carolina’s occupational safety and health statutes, rules or regulations.

South Carolina’s Whistleblower Protection Act for State Government Employees

South Carolina’s General Assembly enacted legislation known as the “Employment Protection for Reports of Violations of State or Federal Regulation” or Law (the “Act”) to guard South Carolina state employees from retaliation or disciplinary actions once they report violations of state or federal laws or perhaps regulations or additional wrongdoing like misuse and fraud. Find out South Carolina Code § 8-27-10, et seq. The Act prohibits a South Carolina public entire body from reducing the compensation of, or dismissing, suspending or demoting, a state employee according to the employee’s submitting of a protected report of wrongdoing with an appropriate authority. S.C. Code § 8-27-20(A). The protected report need to be made by the SC whistleblower in faith that is good and never be a mere technical violation. Id. The Act doesn’t affect private, non-government companies or employees. S.C. Code § 8-27-50.

A public body under the Act means one of the following South Carolina entities: (A) a department of the State; (B) a state board, commission, committee, agency, or authority; (C) a public or governmental body or political subdivision of the State, including counties, municipalities, school districts, or maybe particular purpose or public service districts; (D) an organization, corporation, or perhaps agency supported in entire or maybe in part by public funds or perhaps expending public funds; or, (E) a quasi-governmental body of the State and its political subdivisions. S.C. Code § 8-27-10(1).

A South Carolina worker under the Act is a staff of any South Carolina public body entity, typically excluding those state executives whose appointment or employment is governed by Senate confirmation. S.C. Code § 8-27-10(2).


An appropriate authority under the Act means both (A) the public body which usually employs the whistleblower making the protected report, or (B) a federal, state, or regional governmental body, company, or maybe business keeping jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement, regulatory violations, professional conduct or ethics, or wrongdoing, which includes but not limited to, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”), a County Solicitor’s Office, the State Ethics Commission, the State Auditor, the Legislative Audit Council (the “LAC”), and the Office of Attorney General (the “SCAG”). S.C. Code § 8-27-10(3). When a protected article is manufactured to an entity besides the public body employing the whistleblower generating the report, the Act calls for that the employing public body be informed as soon as practicable by the entity that will received the report. Id.

A SC whistleblower employee’s screened report under the Act is a written paper alleging waste or wrongdoing that is manufactured within 60 (60) days of the date the reporting employee first learns of the alleged wrongdoing, and which includes (a) the particular date of disclosure; (b) the title of the personnel making the article; and, (c) the nature of the wrongdoing and the date or maybe range of dates on which the wrongdoing allegedly occurred. S.C. Code § 8-27-10(4).

Pursuant to the Act, a reportable wrongdoing is some action by a public body which results to substantial abuse, misuse, destruction, or loss of substantial public funds or maybe public online resources, which includes allegations that a public employee has intentionally violated federal or state statutory law or perhaps regulations or various other political subdivision ordinances or regulations or maybe a code of integrity, S.C. Code § 8- وکیل خوب اصفهان -10(5). A violation and that is merely technical and associated with a de minimus nature is not a “wrongdoing” under the Act. Id.

Rewards for SC Whistleblowers

When a SC state employee blows the whistle on abusive or fraudulent acts or violations of federal, state or local laws, rules or polices, in addition the protected report results in savings of public resources because of the state of South Carolina, the whistleblower is permitted to a reward or bounty under the Act. Nonetheless, the reward is extremely limited. The provisions of the Act provide that a SC whistleblower is worthy to the lesser of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000) or perhaps twenty-five percent (25 %) of the believed cash saved by the state in the first year of the whistleblowing employee’s article. The South Carolina State Budget and Control Board can help determine the amount of the financial incentive that is being paid to the staff who’s eligible for the treat as a consequence of filing a bolstered report. See S.C. Code § 8-27-20(B). This incentive is rather meager when compared to the bounty provisions of the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 3732 (the “FCA”). The FCA allows a qui tam whistleblower or maybe relator to receive roughly 30 % of the total length of the government’s healing against defendants with made false and fraudulent promises for charge to the United States. Some recent federal FCA recoveries by the U.S. Department of Justice have surpassed one dolars Billion Dollars.

Nevertheless, the Act doesn’t supersede the State Employee Suggestion Program, of course, if a whistleblower employee’s agency participates in the State Employee Suggestion Program, now items recognized as involving “wrongdoing” must be referred as a suggestion on the software by the worker. A South Carolina government staff is entitled to only one reward either under the Act or perhaps under the State Employee Suggestion Program, at the employee’s choice. Id.

Civil Remedies for SC Whistleblowers

If a South Carolina government staff suffers an adverse activity related to work within one (one) year after having regular filed a protected report which alleged wrongdoing, the employee may institute a non-jury civil action against the public body employer after using up all available grievance or other management remedies, and such grievance/administrative proceedings have resulted in a finding that the employee would not have been disciplined but just for the reporting of alleged wrongdoing. S.C. Code § 8-27-30(A). The adverse action or perhaps retaliations are able to include is dismissal, suspension from employment, demotion, or a decrease in whistleblower’s compensation. The statutory treatments under the Act that the negatively effected employee could recover are (1) reinstatement to his or her former work position; (two) lost wages; (3) actual damages not to go beyond 15 Thousand Dollars ($15,000); and also (four) reasonable attorney fees as dependent on the court. Id. But, an award of attorney’s fees has got a cap under the Act, and wouldn’t exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) for virtually every trial and 5 1000 Dollars ($5,000) for just about any appeal. Id.

At least one court has resolved the Act’s treatments with regard to some whistleblower employee. In Lawson v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 340 S.C. 346, 532 S.E.2d 259 (2000), the S.C. Supreme Court held that when a whistleblower employee is confined to a recovery under the statutory cures of the Act when the personnel alleges a wrongful discharge only on the grounds of his whistleblowing. In Lawson, the court granted summary judgment against the staff because he could not point to a violation of other regulation, ethics rule, or any policy as a foundation for his whistleblower action which amounted to “wrongdoing” under the Act. Id.

Unwanted Actions Based Upon Causes Independent of a Protected Report

In the event the best suited authority which received the report determines the whistleblower employee’s article is unfounded and a simple technical violation and is also not made in faith which is great, the public body could take disciplinary action like termination as well as, notwithstanding the filing of a report, a public body may dismiss, demote, suspend, and lessen the compensation of a staff for causes free from the filing of a protected article. Id. A South Carolina public body could also impose disciplinary sanctions against any one on one line supervisory workers who strike back against another employee for having filed a good faith report.

Statute of Limitations

Under the Act, a whistleblower’s civil action has to be commenced within just one (1) year after the accrual on the reason behind action or exhaustion of all available grievance or any other administrative along with judicial cures, or such a lawsuit is permanently barred. S.C. Code § 8-27-30(B).

Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) Whistleblower Protections

South Carolina features a separate whistleblower protection statute for personnel that report violations of statutes, policies or perhaps regulations regarding occupational safety and health. S.C. Code § 41-15-510. The protected activities include things like filing a complaint, instituting a proceeding, or perhaps testifying about OSHA violations. Any kind of staff who has been discharged and usually discriminated against by anyone in violation of Section 41-15-510 possesses the right to file a complaint with the South Carolina Commission of Labor alleging such discrimination. The SC Labor Commissioner shall result in investigation to be produced as he or maybe she deems appropriate, as well as, if the Commissioner decides that anti discrimination provisions of Section 41-15-510 are already violated, he should institute a law suit inside the correct court of common pleas against such discriminating entity or individual. In any such a low action, the court of common pleas has injunctive power to restrain such OSHA anti-discrimination violations, and even authority to order almost all appropriate relief including reinstatement or rehiring of employee to his or the former situation of her with back pay. S.C. Code § 41-15-520. Unlike the Act, the OSHA whistleblower protections are designed to state private employees and government.

Conclusion

South Carolina whistleblowers who are used by a South Carolina state government agency are protected from unwanted employment actions once they reasonable report violations of state or federal laws or perhaps regulations or any other wrongdoing. South Carolina attorneys, lawyers and law firms who represent SC state government whistleblowers have to are aware of the protections afforded to these staff members that are fired, demoted, suspended or maybe otherwise subjected to an adverse action in reaction to a report of other wrongdoing or fraud by a public agency or one of its employees or officers. South Carolina whistleblower attorneys, lawyers as well as law firms ought to overview the administrative requirements needed to invoke the protections of the state’s anti retaliation statute, the statutes of limits, along with the remedial provisions afforded to such SC state government whistleblowers, so as to correctly counsel such clients. So too, the employment legal professional must be conscious of the rights and remedies of both private and South Carolina government staff members which blow the whistle of violations of state OSHA statutes, rules or laws.

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