No court shall have jurisdiction over any action brought under this article by an inmate incarcerated within a state or local correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1.No court shall have jurisdiction over an action brought under this article against any department, authority, board, bureau, commission, or agency of the Commonwealth, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, a member of the General Assembly, a member of the judiciary, or an exempt official if the action is based on evidence or information known to the Commonwealth when the action was brought. For purposes of this section, “exempt official” means the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and the directors or members of any department, authority, board, bureau, commission or agency of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth.In no event may a person bring an action under this article that is based upon allegations or transactions that are the subject of a civil suit or an administrative proceeding in which the Commonwealth is already a party.The court shall dismiss an action or claim under § 8.01-216.5 unless opposed by the Commonwealth if substantially the same allegations or transactions as alleged in the action or claim were publicly disclosed in a criminal, civil or administrative hearing in which the Commonwealth or its agent is a party, in a Virginia legislative, administrative, or Auditor of Public Accounts’ report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of the information. For purposes of this section, “original source” means an individual (i) who either prior to a public disclosure has voluntarily disclosed to the Commonwealth the information on which the allegations or transactions in a claim are based or (ii) who has knowledge that is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or transactions and who has voluntarily provided the information to the Commonwealth before filing an action under this article.Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Commonwealth shall not be liable for expenses a person incurs in bringing an action under this article.Any employee, contractor, or agent shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole, if that employee, contractor, or agent is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the employee, contractor, agent, or associated others in furtherance of an action under this article or other efforts to stop one or more violations of this article. Relief shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status that employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, two times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorney fees. Any relief awarded to an employee under this section shall be reduced by any amount awarded to the employee through a state or local grievance process. An action under this section may be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction for the relief provided in this section, but may not be brought more than three years after the date the discrimination occurred. This paragraph shall constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity and creates a cause of action by an employee against the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth is the employer responsible for the adverse employment action that would entitle the employee to the relief set forth in this paragraph.
2002, c. 842; 2011, cc. 651, 676; 2012, c. 479; 2014, c. 403.