H. B. 4132
(By Delegates Burdiss, Webster, Ellem, Hamilton, Mahan
[Introduced January 22, 2008; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new section, designated §21-3-22, relating to
employer mandating employee participation in certain
activities; prohibiting employers from mandating communication
with employees regarding certain employer beliefs and
activities; and providing a civil remedy for violations.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new section, designated §21-3-22, to read as
ARTICLE 3. SAFETY AND WELFARE OF EMPLOYEES.
§21-3-22. Employer meetings and communications regarding politics,
religion and labor prohibited.
(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Employer" means a person or entity engaged in business who has employees, including the state and any political
subdivision of the state;
(2) "Employee" means any person engaged in service to an
employer in a business of the employer;
(3) "Political matters" means political party affiliation or
the decision to join or not join any political, labor, social
group or organization, or the employee or employer's participation
in such group or related activity, or expression of any opinion
about any such group or participation, and further includes the
expression of support or opposition to any candidate for elective
office, any matter or opinion relating to any issue raised in an
election or any other political or social issue, or the opinion of
any other person or candidate relating to the group, organization,
issue or person; and
(4) "Religious matters" includes the employee and employer's
opinions, beliefs and participation in any religion and the
employee and employer's opinions and beliefs
derived from the
employee or employer's religious beliefs.
(b) No employer or an employer's agent, representative, or
designee may require its employees to attend an employer-sponsored
meeting or participate in any communications with the employer or
its agents, representatives, or any invitee of the employer, when
the primary purpose is to communicate the employer's opinion about
religious or political matters.
(c) No employer or an employer's agent, representative or
designee may discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize or
threaten to discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize any
employee because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the
employee, makes a good faith complaint, verbally or in writing, of
a violation or a suspected violation of this section. The
provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable when the
employee knows that the complaint is false.
(d) Any aggrieved employee may enforce the provisions of this
section by means of a civil action brought no later than ninety
days after the date of the alleged violation in the circuit court
of the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred or
where the employer has its principal office or principal place of
doing business. The court may award a prevailing employee all
appropriate relief, including rehiring or reinstatement of the
employee to the employee's former position, back pay and
reestablishment of any employee benefits to which the employee
would otherwise have been eligible if the violation had not
occurred. The court shall award a prevailing employee treble
damages, together with reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
(e) Nothing in this section limits an employee's right to
bring a common law cause of action against an employer for wrongful
termination or to diminish or impair the rights of a person under
any collective bargaining agreement.
(f) Nothing in this section prohibits an employer from
requiring employee participation in communications when the
employer is a
religious, educational, labor, political, or similar
organization when the employee's work activities require the
employee to have knowledge of those positions or beliefs.
No provision of this section is intended to govern
activities preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act
[29 U.S.C. §158], and this section is to be construed to exempt
from the scope of its enforcement those actions regulated by the
National Labor Relations Act.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to prohibit employers from
mandated captive meetings with their employees on political or
religious matters. The bill provides a prohibition on these
meetings and allows employees to recover damages for any adverse
actions taken against them for refusal to participate in such
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from
the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would
This bill was recommended for introduction and passage by the
Joint Committee on the Judiciary during 2007 legislative interims.