COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A little-noticed court ruling could affect state employees' efforts to report noncriminal misconduct in government to the state's watchdog.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Franklin County Court of Appeals decided in December that Ohio's whistleblower laws only apply to state workers who contact the Ohio Inspector General to report crimes.

A state employees' union says it means non-lawyers must make legal determinations and they'll seek changes to the law.