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Utility Files Suit Against Whistleblower Law

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1997

Northeast Utilities has filed suit asking the Federal District Court in Hartford to declare unconstitutional a new state whistleblower law, which became effective May 27.

The utility said that while it agrees with the intent of Public Act No. 97-60, the law violates the constitutional rights of employers. The law would prevent utilities and related businesses from retaliating against an employee that goes public about alleged wrongdoing by a company. Northeast Utilities believes it denies employers a reasonable time to investigate and respond to employee complaints.

Since the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control is implementing the law, the utility's lawsuit names the DPUC and individual commissioners as defendants.

The new law requires the DPUC to reactivate employee complaints that were pending when the law became effective. Northeast Utilities said it now faced five such complaints and had only five business days from its DPUC notice to respond, and that some events occurred as long ago as 1980.

Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor with PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

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