Whistleblower Protections Handbook Statement: Rhode Island
When to Include
Rhode Island employers should consider including this statement in their handbook. Although it does not specifically require a handbook policy, the Rhode Island Whistleblowers' Protection Act provides that employers must post notices and "use other appropriate means" to keep employees informed about protections under the law.
Customizable Handbook Statement
Employees have the right under the Rhode Island Whistleblowers' Protection Act to complain of workplace practices or policies that they believe to be in violation of law, against public policy and/or fraudulent or unethical.
The Company will not take any adverse employment action or otherwise retaliate against any employee (or a person acting on behalf of the employee) who:
- Reports (or is about to report) to the employee's supervisor or a public body a violation of law, regulation or rule issued under the law, which the employee knows or reasonably believes has occurred or is about to occur;
- Is requested by a public body to testify or participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry held by the public body or in a court action; or
- Refuses to violate or assist in violating federal, state or local law, rule or regulation.
Employees who wish to report such violations should [insert company-specific employee reporting mechanisms, such as hotline, mailing address, email address and/or online portal]. Employees should also consult the Whistleblowing Policy set forth in the National Handbook for further information about reporting potential misconduct and about protections from retaliation.
Guidance for Employers
- The Rhode Island Whistleblowers' Protection Act (RIWPA) prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions because an employee reports a violation of federal, state or local law that the employee knows or reasonably believes has occurred or is about to occur, unless the employee knows or has reason to know the reported violation is false. The report may be to the employer, the employee's supervisor or a public body. The RIWPA also protects employees who:
- Are requested by a public body to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry held by that public body or in a court action; or
- Refuse to violate or assist in violating federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations.
- Whistleblowing employees who know or reasonably should know that their report is false are not protected under the RIWPA.
- Employers should provide internal procedures for reporting legal violations. Reports may be either verbal or written.
- Employers should take seriously any complaints of violations made to supervisors or management and conduct an investigation.