Can My Employer Retaliate After I Refuse to Do Something Illegal?

Uber, the nationwide ridesharing company, has recently had a slew of allegations come against them, from sexual harassment to using technology to operate in banned areas, and now, telling one of their engineers to cover up the fact he stole illegal documents for them. Waymo, the self-driving company working with Google, claims that former employee Anthony Levandowski illegally downloaded 14,000 documents from them and turned them into Uber officials. These documents contained trade secrets vital to the development of self-driving cars.

Uber wrote a letter to Levandowski, letting him know he should either return the documents to Waymo or deny under oath that he stole them, and that he may be fired if he does not comply with their orders. In this case, an employee committed an illegal act knowingly and would be charged for his crimes separately, but Uber is not completely off the hook. We don’t know if Levandowski was coerced by Uber into committing the downloads. However, Uber is being investigated for trade-secret theft and will possibly have to pay out damages up to 3 times the worth of the stolen technology.

What You Should Do If You Are Asked to Commit a Crime by Your Employer

  • Say no: It is not worth committing a crime to keep your job. You could face potential jail time separately from your company if you know you are breaking the law. If you have been accused of crimes at your job you were unaware of committing, contact an employment attorney.
  • Report the incident: File an internal complaint within the company and let them know you have been asked to commit an illegal act. You may want to refuse to work or go to the authorities if the suspicious task is part of your job duties.

What If Your Employer Retaliates Against You?

If your employer threatens to fire you, reassigns you to a lower position, or asks you to cover up the situation, this is protected by law. A Los Angeles whistleblower attorney can give you the representation you need to hold a company accountable for their crimes.

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