Senate Bill No. 303
(By Senators Hunter, Foster, White, Kessler, Wells, Chafin,
Bailey, Bowman, Edgell and Plymale)
[Introduced January 23, 2008; referred to the Committee on the
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
(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;
(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
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
This section of the code is new; therefore,
strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
This bill was recommended for introduction and passage by the
Joint Committee on the Judiciary during 2007 legislative interims.