Who Is Considered a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is anyone who reports wrongdoing on the part of a business. Whistleblower claims can include:
- Reports of illegal activity in the workplace, including discrimination and labor law violations
- Reports of a health and safety issue
- Reports of environmental waste
These types of claims are considered protected activity under California employment law, and your employer can’t legally retaliate against you for reporting their abuses, whether you do so internally or externally.
What Is Whistleblower Retaliation?
Whistleblower retaliation occurs when an employer terminates or punishes an employee after they have reported a legal violation or safety concern in the workplace. Retaliation can take on many forms, including:
- Wrongful termination
- Denying benefits or overtime
- Delaying a promotion
- Pay or hour cuts
- Failing to hire
- Threats, intimidation, or harassment
Which Laws Protect Whistleblowers in California?
Whistleblower protections come from many different state and federal laws. Most laws that protect workers from discrimination and harassment also protect employees who report employers for this illegal activity. Here are some of the laws that govern whistleblower cases in California:
- Labor Code 1102.5 LC: Prevents employers from retaliating against employees who disclose law violations or provide information in an investigation
- Labor Code 98.6 LC: Protects employees who report wage and hour law violations from retaliation
- Labor Code 6310 LC: Protects employees who report violations of occupational health and safety rules from retaliation
- Government Code 8547 GC: Protects public employees who report law violations, threats to health and safety, economic waste, and gross misconduct from retaliation
- “Qui Tam” section of the California False Claims Act: Protects employees who report fraud or embezzlement from retaliation
- The Fair Employment and Housing Act: Protects employees who report workplace discrimination or harassment from retaliation
- Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989: Protects federal employees who report “Government illegality, waste, and corruption” from facing adverse actions by their employer
Is Exposing a Whistleblower Illegal?
Only the inspector general’s office is prohibited from revealing the identity of a whistleblower without that person’s consent. Otherwise, while laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation, they don’t specify that outing a whistleblower is illegal.
Whistleblower Attorney in San Diego
No one should have to suffer in an intolerable work environment as a result of trying to do the right thing. If you’re being mistreated in the workplace after reporting a violation, you’re likely the victim of whistleblower retaliation and eligible to receive monetary compensation.
The many whistleblower laws can be complicated to understand. If your employer has retaliated against you for whistleblowing, you’ll likely need legal advice to take action against them.
The employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP have extensive knowledge of California law and the experience to be able to support you in pursuing a lawsuit against your employer. Call us today for a consultation or visit our office location in San Diego to learn more.