Are you based out of Irvine and facing retaliation because you complained about unfair working conditions? Is your employer punishing you for speaking out about injustice at your job? If so, you may be experiencing whistleblower retaliation. The law prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers. That means you may be eligible to receive compensation for any losses your employer has inflicted on you.
But maybe you are not sure about what a whistleblower is from a legal perspective. In addition, you probably have not heard about California’s whistleblower protection laws and how they protect whistleblowers. We will cover the basics of whistleblowing in this article. We’ll also touch on whistleblower retaliation. If you want to learn more, contact one of our Irvine whistleblower lawyers today. We can help apply California whistleblower laws to the facts of your case. All our initial consultations are both confidential and free. Contact us today.
What Is a Whistleblower?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “whistleblower” as an “employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or by other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency.”
In most situations, it does not matter what kind of wrongdoing you report. Whistleblowers frequently report all kinds of injustice including,
- Wage violations,
- Race discrimination,
- Poor working conditions, and
In California, the term “whistleblower” can even apply to someone who just raises concerns about something that might be illegal. And a whistleblower does not always need to report wrongdoing to a specific government agency. Under some California whistleblower laws, you can qualify as a whistleblower even if you just open up to a supervisor. Ultimately, the precise definition of a whistleblower depends on which California or federal law applies to your case.
How Can a Whistleblower Receive Protection Under the Law?
There are several California whistleblower laws that collectively protect whistleblowers based in Irvine. While they all work to help whistleblowers, each law focuses on different situations and contexts. So let’s explore some of these whistleblower protection laws in more detail.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act
Discrimination in private workplaces and housing is the focus of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA prohibits discrimination because of factors like your gender, color, national origin, religion, race, and age. Anyone who complains or reports illegal discrimination can be a whistleblower under FEHA. Discrimination or retaliation against a FEHA whistleblower is illegal. Under FEHA, former employees and interns can also receive whistleblower retaliation protection.
The California Labor Code
The California Labor Code helps protect anyone who blows the whistle on a company for violating state or federal laws.
Section 1102.5 of the Labor Code prohibits companies from retaliating against anyone because they revealed a “violation of state or federal statute [or] noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation.” And Section 6310 punishes companies that attempt to “discharge or . . . discriminate” against an employee because the employee reported a workplace safety violation. Finally, Section 98.6 of the Labor Code prohibits retaliation against anyone who reports wage and hour law violations.
What Is Whistleblower Retaliation?
By now you understand that retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal. But what is retaliation exactly? Obviously, retaliation includes things like being fired or demoted for whistleblowing. However, retaliation encompasses many other acts. Even seemingly trivial acts can constitute whistleblower retaliation. Examples of retaliation include:
- Any loss, withholding, or reduction of salary;
- Any discipline, including a suspension or verbal counseling;
- The loss of work credentials;
- Any change in your workload;
- Physical violence;
- Reassignment to a different position (even if the pay is the same);
- Exclusion from the workplace;
- Loss of job perks (like free meals, parking privileges, commuting benefits, etc.); and
- Threats or verbal harassment.
Sometimes, retaliation is blatant. However, some companies are sneaky and try to retaliate in a more subtle way. Perhaps they claim they made the decision to lay you off to “reduce overhead” but kept lower-performing employees. Or maybe they took away your office to “reduce the office’s footprint.” Retaliators can use all kinds of seemingly legitimate excuses to punish employees who do the right thing. For that reason, it is important to let a qualified whistleblower attorney review your case.
Is It Ever Illegal to Blow the Whistle?
No. There is no law in California or in the United States that discourages whistleblowing. That’s because whistleblowers benefit the public immensely. Some of the greatest cover-ups in history—including the Watergate scandal and the Pentagon Papers—came to light because of the bravery of a few ordinary people. Whistleblowers also play a key role in revealing less dramatic forms of fraud and wrongdoing.
As a result, state governments across the country want to encourage whistleblowers rather than punish them. And one vital way to help whistleblowers is to protect them against retaliation and discrimination.
Our Irvine Whistleblower Attorneys Are Ready to Hear Your Story
Whistleblowers are truly tremendous individuals and we are proud to represent them. Thanks to their courage and sacrifice, we can all rest a little easier at night because we know that ethical people are willing to take action. And just like you fight for justice in your workplace, we will fight for justice in your case. When you set up a free appointment with us, we will sit down with you to fully understand by applying the law to your situation. We will then explain your legal options and help you decide how to move forward. If we need to take your employer to court, we promise to give you the effective legal representation you deserve.
At King & Siegel, each one of our Irvine whistleblower lawyers has a demonstrated track record of success. We believe that efficient and aggressive litigation tactics should be available to everyone. We’re passionate about applying our superior legal skills to protect those who have been betrayed by their employers for doing the right thing. Our client reviews prove that we care about providing top-notch service and legal representation. So don’t wait. Schedule a confidential and free consultation with us right away. To get started, contact us today.