Have you witnessed your employer break state or federal law? Did you try to report the violation internally, only to get turned away?
Few people imagine they’ll ever become whistleblowers. And virtually no one wants to become a whistleblower. Unethical companies make retaliation all too common. However, whistleblowers are brave individuals who do society a tremendous public service. More than that, the law protects them against retaliation and allows them to receive monetary compensation for any losses they experience.
Whether you have already blown the whistle at your workplace or are considering doing so, it helps to understand the basics. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. So read on to learn about the basics of whistleblowing. Once you have had a chance to review the ins and outs of whistleblowing and whistleblower retaliation, reach out to one of our Menlo Park whistleblower lawyers right away for a free and confidential case review.
First Things First: What Is a Whistleblower?
Generally speaking, anyone who reports things like fraud, waste, corruption, abuse, or legal violations is a whistleblower. In most situations, a whistleblower discloses illegal acts done by a company or organization where they work. Yet a whistleblower can sometimes be an ordinary citizen with special knowledge of wrongdoing, such as a qui tam plaintiff under the False Claims Act.
This is only a basic definition, however. The exact definition of a whistleblower varies from case to case. Throughout the United States and California, different codes and laws address various types of whistleblowing. And each one of these laws defines the word “whistleblower” in its own unique way. These laws determine who you have to report wrongdoing to and the kinds of wrongdoing you need to disclose to receive legal protection. The complexity of whistleblowing law is just one reason you should consult a whistleblower attorney if you are considering reporting a violation of the law.
Is Whistleblowing a Crime?
Whistleblowing is not a crime. It is a public service. Whistleblowers risk retaliation both inside and outside the workplace to uncover wrongdoing and hold bad actors accountable. In 2007, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a study on accounting fraud. Their study revealed that whistleblowers were responsible for reporting 50% of accounting fraud and ethical violations within private corporations. Professional auditors and other financial watchdogs discovered only 19% of fraudulent activities.
Whistleblowing provides other benefits as well. For one, whistleblowing is fundamentally ethical. It forces companies and organizations to act in the best interests of their shareholders, donors, and supporters. Furthermore, whistleblowing helps protect the public by halting dangerous or unethical activities before they can come to fruition. Whistleblowing discourages wrongdoing and often improves the culture of organizations over the long run.
For all these reasons, you will not find any law in California preventing people from blowing the whistle on their employer.
What Is Whistleblower Retaliation?
Whistleblower retaliation is any adverse or negative action taken against a whistleblower because of their disclosures. Whistleblower retaliation can take many forms in the workplace. The most obvious examples include being fired, demoted, or reassigned. Losing work benefits or receiving extra work can also be a tell-tale retaliatory action. Yet even more subtle things also count as retaliation, including:
- The loss of job-related certifications or clearances;
- Frequent “counselings” for seemingly unrelated reasons;
- Hearing little comments from co-workers about being a “snitch”; and
- Being isolated or excluded from events.
Many other actions can qualify as retaliation. Even seemingly normal and legitimate actions can constitute retaliation when done because of the whistleblower’s actions.
What to Do If You Are Experiencing Whistleblower Retaliation
If you think you are experiencing whistleblower retaliation, your first step should be to document all actions. Keep a journal with dates and details of significant events and conversations. Try to record events as soon as they happen. If you feel it is a safe option, consider talking to your supervisor or HR representative. Keep copies of all correspondence that relate to the retaliation. In some cases, it can be helpful to confront the wrongdoer directly. A direct confrontation may force the guilty party to stop retaliating. Alternatively, you may be able to get an admission from the retaliating party regarding their behavior that will help you prevail in a later lawsuit.
The next step you should take is to contact a qualified whistleblower attorney. A whistleblower attorney is familiar with the state and federal laws that protect you. Moreover, they have experience representing whistleblowers and working with federal and state judges. They can help apply the law to your case and give you legal options. If you decide to file a lawsuit against your employer because of whistleblower retaliation, an attorney can give you the legal representation you need to maximize your chances of recovering damages. Finally, an attorney can help you understand what remedies are available to you so that you can get your life back on track.
Find Out More About Your Case with One of Our Menlo Park Whistleblower Attorneys Today
Our team is dedicated to helping you fight fraud and stand up for your rights. Whether you are considering blowing the whistle or have already taken action, we can assist you by giving you your legal options, assessing your case, and helping you find a path forward. In the event a lawsuit becomes necessary, we will do everything we can to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you want to be represented by a team of quality Menlo Park whistleblower lawyers, choose. King & Siegel. Our attorneys are highly experienced professionals with a proven track record of success. On top of that, we are committed to providing superior customer service. We know that you are not just a number, but a human being who has suffered emotional distress and financial losses for doing the right thing.
Many people are understandably concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer. But we don’t want that ever to be an issue with our clients. That’s why we offer each potential client a completely free and confidential case review session.
Don’t wait to protect your rights. Contact us today.