(a) "Appropriate authority" means a federal, state, county or municipal government body, agency or organization having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement, regulatory violations, professional conduct or ethics, or waste; or a member, officer, agent, representative or supervisory employee of the body, agency or organization. The term includes, but is not limited to, the office of the attorney general, the office of the state auditor, the commission on special investigations, the Legislature and committees of the Legislature having the power and duty to investigate criminal law enforcement, regulatory violations, professional conduct or ethics, or waste.
(b) "Employee" means a person who performs a full or part-time service for wages, salary, or other remuneration under a contract of hire, written or oral, express or implied, for a public body.
(c) "Employer" means a person supervising one or more employees, including the employee in question, a superior of that supervisor, or an agent of a public body.
(d) "Good faith report" means a report of conduct defined in this article as wrongdoing or waste which is made without malice or consideration of personal benefit and which the person making the report has reasonable cause to believe is true.
(e) "Public body" means any of the following:
(1) A department, division, officer, agency, bureau, board, commission, court in its nonjudicial functions only, council, institution, spending unit, authority or other instrumentality of the state of West Virginia;
(2) A commission, council, department, agency, board, court, in its nonjudicial functions only, official, special district, corporation or other instrumentality of a county or a municipality or a regional or joint governing body of one or more counties or municipalities; or
(3) Any other body which is created by state or political subdivision authority or which is funded by thirty-five percent or more by or through state or political subdivision authority, or a member or employee of that body.
(f) "Waste" means an employer or employee's conduct or omissions which result in substantial abuse, misuse, destruction or loss of funds or resources belonging to or derived from federal, state or political subdivision sources.
(g) "Whistle-blower" means a person who witnesses or has evidence of wrongdoing or waste while employed with a public body and who makes a good faith report of, or testifies to, the wrongdoing or waste, verbally or in writing, to one of the employee's superiors, to an agent of the employer or to an appropriate authority.
(h) "Wrongdoing" means a violation which is not of a merely technical or minimal nature of a federal or state statute or regulation, of a political subdivision ordinance or regulation or of a code of conduct or ethics designed to protect the interest of the public or the employer.
(b) No employer may discharge, threaten or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee by changing the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges of employment because the employee is requested or subpoenaed by an appropriate authority to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry held by an appropriate authority or in a court action.
(b) An employee alleging a violation of this article must show by a preponderance of the evidence that, prior to the alleged reprisal, the employee, or a person acting on behalf of or under the direction of the employee, had reported or was about to report in good faith, verbally or in writing, an instance of wrongdoing or waste to the employer or an appropriate authority.
(c) It shall be a defense to an action under this section if the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the action complained of occurred for separate and legitimate reasons, which are not merely pretexts.
(d) An employee covered by the civil service system who contests a civil service action, believing it to be motivated by his having made a disclosure of information may submit as admissible evidence any or all material relating to the action as whistle-blower and to the resulting alleged reprisal.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.