An Easy Guide To Whistleblower Retaliation in California
Your employer can't fire you for reporting illegal or unethical business practices in the company you work for. That said, there are other employee protections for whistleblowers in California, and we will discuss them in this post.
Employees usually know the most about hazardous, unethical, and illegal behaviors within the company. Insiders, unfortunately, have the most to lose when "blowing the whistle on their bosses." They are concerned about losing their jobs, their reputations, and the possibility of civil and criminal culpability if they speak up.
It takes a lot of guts to come forward with damning information about your coworkers and corporate policies. However, doing so should not jeopardize your reputation, livelihood, or safety.
As a result, laws safeguard your rights as a whistleblower, and our Whistleblower Retaliation Attorneys in California defend those who break them.
Your Rights As A Whistleblower In California
For decades, California has been a leader in recognizing the importance of safeguarding the rights of whistleblowers who provide a public service by exposing abuses, malpractice, and other unsafe and illegal activities at their workplaces or within their organizations.
The California Labor Code has broad rules prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who:
Disclose necessary information to a government or law enforcement agency
Provides data, information, eyewitness accounts to a government agency conducting a hearing, investigation, or inquiry
Testifies in front of a governmental body that is conducting a hearing, investigation, or inquiry
Employers who attempt to retaliate against an employee for exposing the facts stated in the statute may be held responsible for damages in civil court.
The Labor Code may protect disclosure of the following information:
Violations of workplace safety standards, such as equipment and training requirements
Human resource rules violations, such as failures to safeguard the confidentiality of employee records
Environmental laws and regulations, such as those prohibiting or governing the disposal of dangerous materials, have been broken.
Price fixing and auction rigging are examples of antitrust infractions.
Financial crimes and securities violations, such as falsifying a company's books and records to conceal financial liabilities, are examples of financial crimes and securities law violations.
Any additional actions that a person perceives to be in violation of a law or regulation.
It's worth noting that the Labor Code protects you even if you're wrong about a violation as long as you have just or reasonable cause to believe it happened. This means that if you report conduct that you reasonably suspect is illegal, your employer cannot dismiss you, demote you, or take any other adverse employment action against you, even if you are incorrect.
If your boss violates any of these worker protections, you should contact a California Employment Law Attorney to help you file claims or take things to court.
What Constitutes Workplace Retaliation?
Again, your boss cannot fire or retaliate against you for "blowing the whistle." However, some retaliatory actions aren't always obvious, so you need to look out for them.
Here are some examples of what's considered illegal retaliation:
Termination without cause
Experiencing verbal or physical abuse
Reduction in pay
Bonuses and other benefits are suddenly taken away or revoked
Hostile work environment
Losing contact with superiors or coworkers
You should note that this isn't an exhaustive list. As said before, not all retaliatory actions are as overt as Wrongful Termination or unjustified wage cuts.
If you are unsure whether the actions taken against you qualify as retaliatory behavior, you should consult with a Labor Lawyer in California to review and organize your case.
What Kinds of Damages Can You Claim?
Whistleblowers who face retaliation at work might suffer a variety of financial, reputational, emotional, and even physical consequences. All of these damages may be used as the foundation for monetary damages or other forms of legal remedies in some way.
The following are some of the most general damages and remedies sought by whistleblower retaliation claimants:
Lost wages or back pay
Reemployment or reinstatement
Defamation or retaliatory damages
Damages for any physical or psychological harm
Whistleblower retaliation cases can take a lot of time and emotional resources to resolve. The success of your case is heavily dependent upon the evidence you have. Your California Employment Attorney can do investigations of their own to gather these pieces of evidence.
What Should A Whistleblower Employee Do?
If you have reported or exposed your employer for any illegal or unethical business practices, you are advised to do the following:
Keep track of when you made the report.
Remember whom (or which agency) you reported your employer to.
Keep track of any acts of suspected retaliatory behavior.
If at all possible, avoid storing pieces of evidence at work or on company-issued devices.
Make a list of anybody who witnessed the violations you reported.
Make a list of everyone who took part in any retaliatory acts.
The sooner you speak with a California Whistleblower Retaliation Attorney, the better. Your legal rights are influenced by the circumstances of your employment case—including how you made the report, when you made the report, when the retaliatory acts started, and how your employer reacts to all of it.
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