Wisconsin Whistleblower Protections
All Wisconsin citizens are protected by state and federal whistleblower laws. We have provided information about many of the laws in Wisconsin below. For more information about federal laws, click here.
Other Whistleblower Laws
Statutes specifically protecting government whistleblowers
Employee Protection, Wis. Stat. § 230.80-88
Parties Protected By Statute
Wis. Stat. § 230.80(3):
“Employee” means any person employed by any governmental unit except:
- A person employed by the office of the governor, the courts, the legislature or a service agency under subch. IV of ch. 13.
- A person who is, or whose immediate supervisor is, assigned to an executive salary group or university senior executive salary group under s. 20.923.
Protected Actions Under Statute
Wis. Stat. § 230.81
- An employee with knowledge of information the disclosure of which is not expressly prohibited by state or federal law, rule or regulation may disclose that information to any other person. However, to obtain protection under s. 230.83, before disclosing that information to any person other than his or her attorney, collective bargaining representative or legislator, the employee shall do either of the following:
- Disclose the information in writing to the employee’s supervisor.
- After asking the division of equal rights which governmental unit is appropriate to receive the information, disclose the information in writing only to the governmental unit that the division of equal rights determines is appropriate. The division of equal rights may not designate the department of justice, the courts, the legislature or a service agency under subch. IV of ch. 13 as an appropriate governmental unit to receive information. Each appropriate governmental unit shall designate an employee to receive information under this section.
- Nothing in this section prohibits an employee from disclosing information to an appropriate law enforcement agency, a state or federal district attorney in whose jurisdiction the crime is alleged to have occurred, a state or federal grand jury or a judge in a proceeding commenced under s. 968.26, or disclosing information pursuant to any subpoena issued by any person authorized to issue subpoenas under s. 885.01. Any such disclosure of information is a lawful disclosure under this section and is protected under § 230.83.
- Any disclosure of information by an employee to his or her attorney, collective bargaining representative or legislator or to a legislative committee or legislative service agency is a lawful disclosure under this section and is protected under § 230.83.
Statutes protecting whistleblowers who report fraud against government
Health Care Worker Protection
Wis. Stat. § 146.997 (2010)
Parties Protected By Statute
Wis. Stat. § 146.997(1)(d)
“Health care provider” means any of the following:
- A nurse licensed under ch. 441.
- A chiropractor licensed under ch. 446.
- A dentist licensed under ch. 447.
- A physician, podiatrist, perfusionist, physical therapist, or physical therapist assistant licensed under ch. 448.
- An occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, physician assistant or respiratory care practitioner certified under ch. 448.
- A dietician certified under subch. V of ch. 448.
- An optometrist licensed under ch. 449.
- A pharmacist licensed under ch. 450.
- An acupuncturist certified under ch. 451.
- A psychologist licensed under ch. 455.
- A social worker, marriage and family therapist or professional counselor certified under ch. 457.
- A speech-language pathologist or audiologist licensed under subch. II of ch. 459 or a speech and language pathologist licensed by the department of public instruction.
- A massage therapist or bodywork therapist licensed under ch. 460.
- An emergency medical technician licensed under s. 256.15(5) or a first responder.
- A partnership of any providers specified under subds. 1. to 14.
- A corporation or limited liability company of any providers specified under subds. 1. to 14. that provides health care services.
- A cooperative health care association organized under s. 185.981 that directly provides services through salaried employees in its own facility.
- A hospice licensed under subch. IV of ch. 50
- A rural medical center, as defined in s. 50.50(11).
- A home health agency, as defined in s. 50.49(1)(a).
Protected Actions Under Statute
Wis. Stat. § 146.997(2)(a)(1-2)
Any employee of a health care facility or of a health care provider who is aware of any information, the disclosure of which is not expressly prohibited by any state law or rule or any federal law or regulation, that would lead a reasonable person to believe any of the following may report that information to any agency, as defined in s. 111.32(6)(a), of the state; to any professionally recognized accrediting or standard-setting body that has accredited, certified or otherwise approved the health care facility or health care provider; to any officer or director of the health care facility or health care provider; or to any employee of the health care facility or health care provider who is in a supervisory capacity or in a position to take corrective action:
- That the health care facility or health care provider or any employee of the health care facility or health care provider has violated any state law or rule or federal law or regulation.
- That there exists any situation in which the quality of any health care service provided by the health care facility or health care provider or by any employee of the health care facility or health care provider violates any standard established by any state law or rule or federal law or regulation or any clinical or ethical standard established by a professionally recognized accrediting or standard-setting body and poses a potential risk to public health or safety.
Specific Remedies Authorized By Statute
Wis. Stat. § 146.997(5)
Any health care facility or health care provider and any employee of a health care facility or health care provider who takes disciplinary action against, or who threatens to take disciplinary action against, any person in violation of sub. (3) may be required to forfeit not more than $1,000 for a first violation, not more than $5,000 for a violation committed within 12 months of a previous violation and not more than $10,000 for a violation committed within 12 months of 2 or more previous violations. The 12-month period shall be measured by using the dates of the violations that resulted in convictions.