Whistleblower Protection

In an ideal world, when an individual comes forward to protect the health, safety, and financial interests of others, they would be rewarded. Alas, this is normally not the case. Upon finding out about the dangerous or illegal activities of a company or government entity, an employer’s last concern is protecting the brave individual.

Bringing light to the issues and activities of a company can lead to consequences such as job loss for managers, negative publicity, criminal charges, and legal fines for the company and executives. Due to the severity of these possible consequences, whistleblowers are typically not encouraged to come forward. This may affect the executives and company but lead to employees losing their jobs or facing punishment for speaking up. Otherwise, employees are directly intimidated and deterred away from reporting a violation. For this reason, employees typically remain quiet out of fear. 

Both the government and the state of California have acknowledged the significance of those who have the tenacity to come forward. Fortunately, the state of California and the federal government have created comprehensive legal protections for whistleblowers.

Who Do Whistleblower Laws Protect?

There is a wide range of state and federal laws that protect whistleblowers. Although the specificity of protection varies on the law, whistleblower laws generally provide protection from retaliation for individuals who report safety and legal violations.

Retaliationincludes but is not limited to disadvantaging the employee in the workplace by:

  • Terminating or demoting the employee,
  • Making unfavorable work assignments, or
  • Refusing to provide promotions for the whistleblower.

Whistleblower Laws Protecting California Workers

If you believe you have been retaliated against due to you coming forward, or if you simply need direction in filing a report, a skilled California employment attorney is your best source of guidance. The complexity of whistleblower protections can be overwhelming, and it may be challenging to determine what protections apply in your situation. 

W Employment Law specializes in protecting the rights of California workers. We have successfully acquired millions of dollars in compensation for employees who have been mistreated. With our extensive amount of work, we recognize the important role and bravery that it takes to be a “whistleblower,” and we are here to guide you through the challenges you may face.

In the California Labor Code, there is extensive protection for California workers who are “whistleblowers.” This includes employees who report violations of state or federal law along with resistance with local, state, or federal regulation to their boss’s or certain governmental agencies. Additionally, this protects those who end up testifying in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry conducted by a public body.

With the extensiveness of California’s protections, there are laws in place for employees of specific industries to protect them against retaliation as a result of their complaint. This includes:

  • Protection for employees of the federal government who disclose evidence of violations of the law or certain types of abuse or negligence,
  • Protection for employees of the state of California who make protected disclosures,
  • Protection for healthcare workers who file complaints related to issues such as quality of care,
  • Protection for California employees who are associated with a complaint regarding health and safety issues within their workplace, and
  • Protection for employees of publicly traded companies who report violations of federal financial regulations.

Many of the violations California provides protection for are not limited to the list above. If you believe you are facing retaliation for reporting any illegal or unsafe activity, check with an experienced California employment attorney.

Remedies for Whistleblowers Facing Retaliation

Similar to the application of specific protections to the type of worker and type of report filed, remedies vary from law to law. For example, the most recurrent remedy available includes back pay and reinstatement for the violation. Additionally, most whistleblowers provide for legal fees, sometimes including attorney fees. Ultimately, these arrangements make it simpler for an employee undergoing retaliation to implement their rights by being able to attain an attorney and possibly filing a lawsuit while avoiding paying legal fees in advance. Some statues allow for additional compensation for affected employees such as:

  • Double back pay
  • Interest on back pay
  • Benefits
  • Civil penalties

In some cases, courts are even encouraged to grant relief to the victimized employee to reinstitute the state the employee would have been in if they were not retaliated against. In much more complex cases, punitive damages may be imposed.