Substitute Senate Bill No. 1090

Public Act No. 99-46

An Act Protecting Whistleblowers.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 16-8a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No public service company, as defined in section 16-1, holding company, as defined in section 16-47, or Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensee operating a nuclear power generating facility in this state, or person, firm, corporation, contractor or subcontractor directly or indirectly providing goods or services to such public service company, holding company or licensee, may take or threaten to take any retaliatory action against an employee for [his] the employee's disclosure of (1) any matter involving the substantial misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the management of such public service company, holding company or licensee, or [the disclosure of] (2) information pursuant to section 31-51m. Any employee found to have knowingly made a false disclosure shall be subject to disciplinary action by [his] the employee's employer, up to and including dismissal.

(b) Any employee of such a public service company, holding company or licensee, or of any person, firm, corporation, contractor or subcontractor directly or indirectly providing goods or services to such a public service company, holding company or licensee, having knowledge of any of the following may transmit all facts and information in [his] the employee's possession to the Department of Public Utility Control: (1) Any matter involving substantial misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the management of such public service company, holding company or licensee; or (2) any matter involving retaliatory action or the threat of retaliatory action taken against an employee who has reported the misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance, in the management of such public service company, holding company or licensee. With regard to any matter described in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the department shall investigate such matter in accordance with the provisions of section 16-8 and shall not disclose the identity of such employee without [his] the employee's consent unless it determines that such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation. With regard to any matter described in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the matter shall be handled in accordance with the procedures set forth in subsections (c) and (d) of this section.

(c) (1) Not more than thirty business days after receipt of a written complaint, in a form prescribed by the department, by an employee alleging [his] the employee's employer has retaliated against an employee in violation of subsection (a) of this section, [and not more than thirty business days after May 27, 1997, for any such pending written complaint which the department received before said date,] the department shall make a preliminary finding in accordance with [subdivision (3) of] this subsection. [The department shall make its findings based on sworn affidavits and verified documents, without a public hearing.]

(2) Not more than five business days after receiving a written complaint, in a form prescribed by the department, the department shall notify the employer by certified mail. Such notification shall include a [copy of the complaint or a description of the allegations made in the complaint in sufficient detail to allow the employer the opportunity to respond, along with a notice that the department must receive any response from the employer not more than five business days after the employer receives such notification. The department shall consider any response it has timely received from the employer in making its preliminary finding. Any filing] description of the nature of the charges and the substance of any relevant supporting evidence. The employer may submit a written response and both the employer and the employee may present rebuttal statements in the form of affidavits from witnesses and supporting documents and may meet with the department informally to respond verbally about the nature of the employee's charges. The department shall consider in making its preliminary finding as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection any such written and verbal responses, including affidavits and supporting documents, received by the department not more than twenty business days after the employer receives such notice. Any such response received after [five] twenty business days shall be considered by the department only upon a showing of good cause and at the discretion of the department. The department shall make its preliminary finding as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection based on information described in this subdivision, without a public hearing.

(3) [There] Unless the department finds by clear and convincing evidence that the adverse employment action was taken for a reason unconnected with the employee's report of substantial misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that an employee was retaliated against in violation of subsection (a) of this section if the department finds that: (A) The employee had reported substantial misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the management of the public service company, holding company or licensee; (B) the employee was subsequently discharged, suspended, demoted or otherwise penalized by having [his] the employee's status of employment changed by [his] the employee's employer; and (C) the [employee's report was not knowingly false] subsequent discharge, suspension, demotion or other penalty followed the employee's report closely in time.

(4) If such findings are made, the department shall issue an order requiring the employer to immediately return the employee to the employee's previous position of employment or an equivalent position pending the completion of the department's full investigatory proceeding pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.

(d) [After] Not later than thirty days after making a preliminary finding in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, the department shall [conduct] initiate a full investigatory proceeding in accordance with the provisions of section 16-8, at which time the employer shall have the opportunity to rebut the presumption. The [Department of Public Utility Control] department may issue orders or impose civil penalties in a manner that conforms with the notice and hearing provisions in section 16-41 against a public service company, holding company or licensee or a person, firm, corporation, contractor or subcontractor directly or indirectly providing goods or services to such public service company, holding company or licensee, in order to enforce the provisions of this section.

(e) If an employee or former employee of such a public service company, holding company or licensee, or of a person, firm, corporation, contractor or subcontractor directly or indirectly providing goods or services to such a public service company, holding company or licensee, having knowledge of any matter involving the substantial misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the management of such public service company, holding company or licensee, enters into an agreement with [his] the employee's employer that contains a provision directly or indirectly discouraging the employee from presenting a written complaint or testimony concerning such misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in any legislative, administrative or judicial proceeding, such provision shall be void as against public policy.

(f) The Department of Public Utility Control shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, to carry out the provisions of this section. Such regulations shall include the following: (1) The procedures by which a complaint may be brought pursuant to subsection (a) of this section; (2) the time period in which such a complaint may be brought; (3) the time period by which the department shall render a decision pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; (4) the form on which written complaints shall be submitted to the department by an employee pursuant to subsection (c) of this section; and (5) the requirement that a notice be posted in the workplace informing all employees of any public service company, holding company and licensee and of any person, firm, corporation, contractor or subcontractor directly or indirectly providing goods or services to a company or licensee, as defined in subsection (b) of this section, of their rights under this section, including the right to be reinstated in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

Sec. 2. This act shall take effect from its passage.

Approved May 27, 1999

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