Penn State Scandal: If I Report Child Abuse, Can I Lose My Job? Am I Protected in Any Way?

By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire

The tragedy which has engulfed Penn State and forced the retirement of Joe Paterno has also generated an opportunity to discuss what is legally required of someone who, like Mike McQueary, finds themselves in the unfortunate, uncomfortable, and infuriating situation following the discovery of suspected child abuse.  My previous article on this subject reviews what is child abuse, who is required to report child abuse, and what type of report must filed.  This article discusses the protections the law provides someone if he or she classifies as a mandatory reporter and, in turn, are required to report suspected child abuse.

23 Pa.C.S. § 6311(d) provides protections for a mandatory reporter.  If you are a mandatory reporter pursuant to § 6311 and, in good faith, make, or cause someone to make, a report of a child abuse and are then terminated by your employer or otherwise discriminated against in terms of compensation, hiring, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, then, pursuant to § 6311(d), you may file suit against your employer for appropriate relief.  Termination or discrimination against an employee for a reporter made by a mandatory report is explicitly prohibited!  Appropriate relief may include reinstatement with backpay.

If you, a family member, friend, or associate were terminated or discriminated against because you or that person reported an incident of suggested child abuse, please contact an attorney immediately.  You can reach our firm at 610-845-3803 and we offer free initial consultations.  Child abuse is serious matter and you should not suffer because you honored your moral and criminal obligation to report the suspected abuse.

One thought on “Penn State Scandal: If I Report Child Abuse, Can I Lose My Job? Am I Protected in Any Way?

  1. Matt,
    Very timely and pertinent blog.
    I believe it likely Joe and MM had a duty to report – however, there may be somewhat of a gray area in that the statute says staff member. In 2002, JS was not an employee of PSU. However, he enjoyed Emeritus status and had a desk and a phone. So, he probably does meet the definition. Also, it did occur on school property.


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