It’s in everyone’s best interest when employees can report corporate abuses, sexual harassment, violations of health, safety, environmental, and other laws, and wage theft without fear of retaliation. Whistleblower protection laws ensure that you can expose these violations of public trust without fear of ruining your career. Whistleblower protections take care of us all.
California Whistleblower Protection Act
The main protections for whistleblowers in California exist under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. The California Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits employers (and third parties who can act on behalf of employers) from retaliating against an employee who reports a violation of state or federal law. Essentially, your career can’t be penalized for reporting wrongdoing– even if it makes the company look bad or costs an employer money.
Who Is A Whistleblower?
Under the Whistleblower Act, any employee or independent contractor who reports a crime is considered a whistleblower. This definition has been expanded to include patients and customers who depend on the company in certain industries (like healthcare and securities).
Do I Only Get Protection If I Report My Concerns To The Police Or Government?
Originally, the California Whistleblower Act only applied to whistleblowers who reported violations to a government official or the police. In 2014, the law was amended to add protections for anyone who reported violations internally (such as to a supervisor or internal company watchdog) or to any external entity investigating a violation. If you have good reason to believe that the person you are making the report to has the authority to take action after receiving the information, you should be protected against retaliation.
What Is Considered Retaliation Against Whistleblowers In California?
In California, whistleblower protections are comprehensive. Employees cannot be retaliated against in the following ways after reporting illicit behavior.
- Commands to perform improper or illegal activity regardless
- Disciplinary action
- Refusal to hire
- Reassignment to a lower-status or lower-paid position
- Denial of merit increases, raises, or promotions
- Involuntary transfers
What To Do If You Are A Whistleblower Facing Retaliation
As a whistleblower, you should be protected against any retaliation, but these actions do happen. If you have been a victim of retaliation after revealing a company’s illegal actions, you need to act right away to claim your rights. You can recover damages related to many types of retaliation, including lost wages, reinstatement of position, and damage to personal reputation. An employment lawyer can help you better understand the remedies that will be available in your unique case. Call the California employment attorneys at Wakeford and Gelini today to set up an appointment today and see how we help protect whistleblowers.