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MY BOSS SAYS . . . I need to keep quiet about the environmental violations I've seen at work or I'll be fired.

Under state law in Louisiana, employees are protected from retaliation for disclosing or threatening to disclose environmental violations to a supervisor or a public body (such as the Department of Environmental Quality or other state or federal agency). The law also provides protection to employees who provide information to or testify before a public body that is conducting an investigation. Environmental whistleblowers are protected whether the environmental violator is their employer or another business with whom their employer has a business relationship.

If you are an environmental whistleblower, the law protects you from the following forms of retaliation taken as a result of your report of an environmental violation: firing, layoff, lockout, loss of promotion, loss of raise, loss of present position, loss of job duties or responsibilities, etc. The law also provides that certain categories of damages are to be tripled if the environmental whistleblower proves his claim.

The law applies to those employees who report in good faith and have a reasonable belief that an environmental violation occurred. Proof of an actual violation is not required under Louisiana's environmental whistleblower law, but the employee's belief must be reasonable one. Employees who commit deliberate environmental violations without being directed to do so by their employer are not permitted to be whistleblowers under the law.

What should you do if you believe you have witnessed an environmental violation at work?  Complain in writing and retain a copy of your complaint. Be specific about what you saw or were ordered to do and provide details in your written complaint. Cooperate with any investigation that results from your complaint. And if you believe that your employer is retaliating against you because you made a complaint or threatened to do so, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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