Human Resources

Protection of Public Employees Act
(Utah Code 67-21-1 to 67-21-8)

67-21-1. Citation of the act.
This chapter is known as the "Utah Protection of Public Employees Act."

67-21-2. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
1.   Employee means a person who performs a service for wages or other remuneration under a contract for hire, written or oral, express or implied, for the state of political subdivision of the state.

2.   Employer means the state or any political subdivision of the state which has one or more employees. Employee includes an agent of an employer.

3.   Public body means all of the following:
a. A state office, employee, agency, department, division, bureau, board, commission, council, authority, educational institution,  or any other body in the executive branch of state government.
b. An agency, board, commission, council, institutional member, or employee of the legislative branch of state government.
c. A county, city, town, regional governing body, council, school district, special district, or municipal corporation, board department, commission, council, agency, or any member or employee thereof.
d. Any other body which is created by state or local authority or which is primarily funded by or through state or local authority, or any member or employee of that body.
e. A law enforcement agency or any member or employee of a law enforcement agency.
f. The judiciary and any member or employee of the judiciary.

67-21-3. Reporting of governmental violations of law- Employer action- Exceptions.
1.   An employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise bring a personal action against an employee affecting in any manner the employee's employment, including but not limited to as compensation, terms, benefits, conditions, location, rights, immunities, or privileges whenever the employee, or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employee, acts in any fashion including verbal, written, broadcast, or other form of communication to report the existence of any waste of public funds, property, or manpower, or violation of a law, or a rule promulgated under the law of this state, a political subdivision of the state, or any recognized entity of the United States, unless:
a. the employee has not given written notice of, or otherwise formally informed the employer of the violation or reasonable suspicion of a violation, and the employee has allowed the employer sufficient time to take appropriate corrective action; or

        b. the employee has not conformed to reasonable procedures administratively established by the employer for reporting such matters to the appropriate administrators; or

        c. the employee knows or has reason to know that the report is malicious, false, or frivolous.

2.   An employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise bring a personal action against an employee affecting in any manner the employee's employment, including but not limited to compensation, terms, benefits, conditions, location, rights, immunities, or privileges whenever a public body requests the employee's participation in an investigation, hearing, inquiry, or other form of administrative review held by the public body.

67-21-4.  Remedies for employee bringing action- Proof required.

1.   An employee who alleges a violation of this chapter may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief or actual damages, or both, within 90 days after the occurrence of the alleged violation of this chapter.

2.   An action commenced under Subsection (1) may be brought in the circuit court for the county where the alleged violation occurred, the county where the complainant resides, or the county where the person against whom the civil complaint is filed resides or has his principal place of business.

3.   As used in Subsection (1) "damages" means damages for injury or loss caused by each violation of this chapter, including reasonable attorney fees.

4.   An employee shall show by clear and convincing evidence that he or a person acting on his behalf was intending to report, verbally or in writing, a violation or a suspected violation of a law of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States, to a public body.

67-21-5.  Court orders for violation of chapter.

    A court, in rendering a judgment in an action bought under this chapter, shall order, as the court considers appropriate, reinstatement of the employee at the same level, the payment of back wages, full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, or any combination of these remedies. A court may also award the complainant all or a portion of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees and witness fees, if the court determines that the award is appropriate.

67-21-6.  Civil fine- Remedy - Damages - Amount

1.   A person who violates this chapter is liable for a civil fine of no more that $500.

2. A civil fine which is ordered under this chapter shall be submitted to the state treasurer for deposit in the General Fund.

67-21-7.  No impairment of employee rights under collective bargaining agreement.

    This chapter shall not be construed to require an employer to compensate an employee for participation in an investigation hearing, or inquiry held by a public body in accordance with Section 67-21-3.

67-21-8.  Notice of contents of this chapter- Posting.

An employer shall post notices and use other appropriate means to keep employees informed of their protections and obligations under this chapter.