The principal statute that protects “whistleblowers” under Connecticut law was enacted in 1982 following the Connecticut Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Sheets v. Teddy’s Frosted Foods, Inc., 179 Conn. 471 (1980), which established the tort of wrongful discharge for employees in Connecticut. Connecticut General Statutes § 31-51m is the primary statutory tort that provides protection to employees against discharge, discipline or other penalty based on reporting, verbally or in writing, to a public body, a violation or suspected violation of any state or federal law or regulation, or any municipal ordinance or regulation.
In addition, an employee of a municipality is also protected when reporting unethical practices, mismanagement or abuse of authority by such employer to a public body. Section 31-51m claims must be brought within 90 of the violation or within 90 days of the exhaustion of all available administrative remedies, whichever is later. If a violation of the statute is established the employee may be entitled to reinstatement, back wages and benefits and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
In addition to the protection afforded by § 31-51m, the legislature has enacted whistleblower protection for particular classes of employees in order to encourage reporting of suspected abuse or disclosure when the safety of the public is at issue. Connecticut General Statutes § 17b-451(e) provides the remedies afforded by § 31-51m to any person who is discharged, discriminated or retaliated against because of reporting abuse to the elderly.
Section 16-8a provides whistleblower protection to employee of a “public service company” but the complaint must be filed with the Department of Public Utility Control. Whistleblowing protection is provided to employees who reveal fraud against shareholders by corporations organized or authorized to transact business in this state under Connecticut General Statutes § 33-1336 (a).
A civil action for discharge or discrimination may be brought against any person who violates this section in Superior Court seeking damages or injunctive relief. State employees, quasi-public employees and employees of large state contractors may not be retaliated against for reporting information to the Auditor of Public Accounts or the Attorney General under Connecticut General Statutes § 4-61dd. This statute provides for an internal investigation by the Attorney General and remedies through the executive branch.
Finally, Connecticut General Statutes § 38a-479ff protects employee from retaliation for filing complaints with the Insurance Commissioner relating to unfair insurance practices and authorizes a suit in Superior Court for damages and attorneys fees.