Your employer has the authority to make many demands of you. However, your employer cannot command that you engage in unlawful behavior or tolerate the employer’s misconduct. Your job should not be at odds with the law.
Fortunately, federal and California whistleblower protection laws help ensure that workers have safe ways to report employers’ violations and refuse to follow their employers’ illegal instructions. As a whistleblower, you have the most protection when you have a good attorney by your side to timely enforce your rights under state and federal whistleblower laws. At King & Siegel LLP, we have the skill and experience to safeguard your rights and your livelihood when you take a stand against the wrongful actions of an employer.
What Laws Protect Employees from Whistleblower Retaliation in California?
The courageous actions of a whistleblower can benefit fellow employees, patrons, and the public. The benefit whistleblowers provide to the well-being of their communities is why they have many rights under California and federal law. These laws prevent employers from retaliating against you for exposing their misdeeds.
California Whistleblower Protection Laws
In general, California Labor Code Section 1102.5 (Section 1102.5) protects all employees in California who need to report a workplace violation or stand against unlawful requests at work. Under Section 1102.5, a protected whistleblower includes an employee who refuses to engage in an illegal activity or reports one of the following employer activities to the proper authorities:
- An unsafe practice or working condition;
- A violation of a state or federal statute; or
- A failure to comply with a local, state, or federal regulation or rule.
To take advantage of whistleblower protections, you must report the offending behavior to law enforcement, a person at work who has authority over you, an employee who has authority to investigate or address the violation, a tribunal, or an investigatory body. Before you make your report, you should have reasonable cause to believe that you are revealing a breach of a law, rule, or regulation.
If you are a state employee, you also have the option of seeking refuge under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. Under this law, state employees can pursue legal relief after suffering whistleblower retaliation at work. What is retaliation? It is any adverse action your employer takes against you because you have disclosed or are contemplating disclosure of unlawful activity.
Retaliatory actions by an employer can include the following:
- Job termination,
- Reduction in pay,
- Unwarranted disciplinary action,
- Refusal to promote or hire,
- Unwanted job transfers,
- Unfavorable job assignments, or
- Reduction of benefits.
Many state employees can submit written reports of unlawful retaliation to the State Personnel Board. If you work for the University of California, you make your retaliation report to the human resources department or designated official at work. And if you are a California State University employee, you file your written report with the vice chancellor for human resources. Speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers to help ensure you file your complaint with the proper authority.
Federal Whistleblower Protection Laws
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) oversees the protection of whistleblowers who are resisting or seeking to expose violations that deal with the following federal concerns:
- Health insurance,
- Employee safety,
- Family and medical leave,
- Employee compensation,
- Agricultural work,
- Environmental protection,
- Consumer protection,
- Food safety, and
- Financial issues.
Although the DOL has oversight regarding whistleblowers, the agency responsible for enforcing your rights to protection depends on the type of misconduct you expose. Your attorney can guide you to the correct federal agency for making your complaint and receiving legal relief.
Remedies for Violations of Whistleblower Protection Laws
Confronting an employer’s unlawful conduct is the right thing to do, but it can also come with the risk of professional or financial harm. To combat these realities, state and federal whistleblower protection laws allow victims of retaliation to recover significant remedies, such as:
- Compensation for related financial losses,
- Compensation for emotional distress and harm to professional reputation,
- Reinstatement of a position or work benefits, and
- Punitive damages against an employer whose behavior is exceptionally wrong.
Regardless of your employer’s efforts to diminish your losses, our skilled whistleblower lawyers can help you recover the maximum amount of damages available in your case.
You Must Timely File Your Whistleblower Complaint
How long do whistleblower protections last in CA? The answer to that question depends on the type of violation you witnessed and how you report it. You might have as little as 30 days and up to three years to take legal action against retaliation. Speaking to a lawyer immediately after suffering retaliation best preserves your rights to receive compensation and relief.
King & Siegel Is Here to Safeguard Your Livelihood
You deserve to work in an atmosphere that does not skirt the law or compromise your morals. At King & Siegel, our experienced whistleblower protection attorneys can help make sure you receive the personal and professional protection you are entitled to under the law. We are attorneys who come from top-five law schools and the best litigation firms in the nation. And we want to ensure that employees across California in workplace disputes receive the same sophisticated and aggressive representation normally reserved for large companies and employers. If you need a champion, give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation.