Have you seen your employer violate a state or federal law? Were you disappointed about a supervisor’s response to an illegal company policy? Do you believe that the company you work for is violating other workers’ rights? If so, you can pursue a whistleblower claim in hopes of affecting positive change in your workplace and obtaining monetary compensation.
At King & Siegel LLP, our Sacramento whistleblower lawyers help individuals blow the whistle on the illegal conduct of their employers and other parties through qui tam lawsuits. We can help you understand your rights and pursue an effective whistleblower claim. And because we also handle other employment law matters, we can protect your employment rights throughout the process. Contact us today.
What Constitutes “Whistleblowing”?
“Whistleblower” is a term used to describe a private citizen who calls out a company for engaging in illegal conduct or violating a state or federal regulation. While whistleblowing doesn’t always involve an employee who blows the whistle, that is often the case because employees have inside information that is not accessible to the general public.
Employees may blow the whistle on their employer, or any other individual or business they learn is engaging in illegal activity. For example, the following are all types of whistleblower cases:
- Data privacy and security violations,
- Insurance fraud violations,
- Tax evasion,
- Medicare fraud and waste,
- Government contractor violations, and
- Employment law violations.
If you believe that your employer is violating the law, King & Siegel LLP can help explain your options.
Is Whistleblowing a Crime?
No, whistleblowing is not a crime. In fact, whistleblowing refers to reporting another party’s violation of the law. However, whistleblower claims may—but don’t necessarily need to—allege an employer’s criminal conduct. Some whistleblower claims are based on criminal violations such as healthcare fraud, while others simply raise employment law violations. In short, whistleblowers report crimes and other violations committed by companies who are often their employers.
How Are Whistleblowers Protected?
Whistleblowers are protected under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. The Act prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who brings an employer’s misconduct to light through a whistleblower lawsuit. As long as an employee makes a whistleblower claim in good faith, their employer cannot retaliate against them.
In this context, retaliation includes termination. However, employers cannot take any adverse employment action against an employee due to their whistleblowing activities. For example, this means an employer cannot do any of the following because an employee blew the whistle:
- Terminate an employee;
- Demote a worker, either in seniority or pay level;
- Threaten to report a worker or their family to immigration authorities;
- Deny a worker access to training or job-advancement opportunities; and
- Deny a worker access to the resources they need to do their job.
In fact, most employers are well aware of the prohibition against retaliation. Thus, an employer who wants to get rid of a whistleblower typically does so under the guise of a “legitimate” reason. However, courts are willing to second-guess an employer’s stated reason for the action taken against an employee if there is circumstantial evidence that the employer’s true motivation was to retaliate. Thus, if your employer retaliated against you after you reported a workplace violation or you fear reporting your employer’s illegal conduct, the Sacramento whistleblower lawyers at King & Siegel can help.
How Do Whistleblower Claims Work?
Typically, a whistleblower claim starts off when a private citizen, often an employee, notices a business engaging in illegal conduct. This person is called a “relator.” The relator gathers evidence of the misconduct and presents it to the government. The government reviews the relator’s case to determine if it wants to intervene. If the government intervenes, it handles the case from that point on. However, if the government elects not to intervene, the relator can still proceed with the case on their own.
If the relator’s case results in the government recovering money, the relator is entitled to a percentage of the recovered amount. While recovery percentages can vary, relators generally require a higher percentage in those cases where the government does not intervene (because the government doesn’t need to expend as many resources).
Whistleblower claims are very common. In fact, according to the United States Department of Justice, of the $2.2 billion recovered by the federal government in 2021, $1.6 billion involved whistleblower claims.
Do You Need Sacramento Whistleblower Attorneys?
Strictly speaking, there is no legal requirement that you retain the assistance of a whistleblower lawyer. However, whistleblower cases often involve a variety of complicated issues that make it best to consult with an attorney early on in the process. For example, whistleblower attorneys can help you contextualize your employer’s actions under the current state of the law to determine if they were, in fact, illegal. Lawyers also help with collecting all the documents you need to substantiate the illegal conduct and also assist in presenting your claim to the government.
Finally, an experienced Sacramento whistleblower attorney can also determine if your claims are protected under state or federal law. This is important because the last thing you want is to open the door for your employer to terminate you or take other adverse employment action against you.
Do You Have Knowledge of Your Employer’s Illegal Conduct?
Whether it’s ensuring taxpayer dollars do not go to waste or calling employers out on illegal employment law practices, whistleblowers play an important role in society. If you have knowledge of your employer’s illegal conduct, reach out to the Sacramento whistleblower attorneys at King & Siegel LLP to schedule a free consultation. We are immediately available to discuss your case and provide you with an honest assessment of your options. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of whistleblower claims on behalf of California workers and look forward to seeing how we can help you. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, call us today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
Our experienced attorneys handle other types of cases as well, including: