Employers cannot retaliate against employees for reporting criminal activities to the authorities or supervisors with investigatory powers. Under California and federal laws, a “whistleblower” is a person who reports illegal activities or incompetence to supervisors, state agencies or law enforcement. Retaliation is where an employer takes some type of negative action against the employee who reported the activity. Examples of retaliation could include wrongful termination or wrongful demotion. Employers may also deny whistleblowers certain benefits, such as a promotion.
Generally, the employer will try to harm the worker’s employment prospects or reputation for “blowing the whistle”. Fortunately, employers cannot retaliate against whistleblowers without breaking the law. Whistleblowers may be able to sue their employers for damages. Compensation from a whistleblower lawsuit can help affected workers pay for damages that include lost wages and benefits. There are also cases where punitive damages may be appropriate.
I was extremely stressed out about my termination, like literally sick, but Chris was always extremely positive and upbeat, and working with him turned me right around. He’s completely empathetic with you but flips the switch against the other side.Haley
Whistleblower Laws in California
In California, Labor Code 1102.5 LC protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Employers cannot retaliate against employees for the following actions:
- Reporting potential regulatory violations or criminal activities to a supervisor, law enforcement agency, party with the authority to investigate the claim or state agency.
- Giving information or testimony to a public entity that is conducting an investigation or hearing into potential criminal activities or regulatory violations.
For both instances listed above, the employee must reasonably believe some type of violation or illegal activity occurred. Even if the employee is wrong and the employer did not engage in this type of behavior, Labor Code 1102.5 LC still protects the employee from retaliation.
You also may have protections from retaliation if your employer wrongly believes you reported a regulatory violation or crime. Employers also cannot retaliate against a whistleblower who took another job, or against employed family members of the whistleblower.
Additional Federal and California Whistleblower Protections
There are a number of additional state and federal laws that can protect you from whistleblower retaliation.
California laws can protect you for reporting labor law violations to the California Labor Commissioner, such as an employer who is not meeting wage or hour requirements. There are also whistleblower laws that protect public employees or employees reporting certain types of safety or ethical violations. The California Whistleblower Protection Act provides specific protections to public employees.
Another law that protects employees is the California False Claims Act, which allows employees to sue their employer on behalf of a state entity. Employees can use the protections afforded by this act if their employers engaged in fraud or embezzlement.
The federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act can protect whistleblowers working in the financial sector if they report securities fraud to the authorities or a supervisor.
Finally, you also have whistleblower protections under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under this law, your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting discrimination.
The Law Office of Christopher Baudino can help California employees who faced retaliation for whistleblowing. California whistleblower attorney Christopher Baudino can help you determine which options are available for your situation.
You should always speak with an attorney if you have questions about how to respond to whistleblower retaliation. The information above is a good example of how complex state and federal whistleblower laws can be for the layman. Which law applies depends on your situation.
However, you should seek compensation if you faced retaliation, as it can help you pay for the damages caused by your employer’s actions. Depending on the circumstances, seeking legal action against your employer can also protect your professional reputation from suffering damage.
About Our California Whistleblower Attorney
California whistleblower attorney Christopher Baudino can help you determine if it would be possible to file a lawsuit against your employer for retaliation. As an experienced California employment attorney, he can help you determine your next course of action. Use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.
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