Want to Blow The Whistle On Your Employer? California Whistleblowers Have Rights
Under U.S. law, a whistleblower (or whistle blower) is an employee who “tells” on an employer, because he or she reasonably believed that the employer committed an illegal act.
Whistleblowing Laws in California
Under the laws of most states, whistleblowers are entitled to emotional distress and punitive damages. Now, under federal law, specifically the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, any person who “interferes with” the employment or livelihood of an employee for providing any truthful information to legal authorities relating to the commission or possible commission of any federal offense, can be imprisoned for up to 10 years, and pay a fine up to $250,000.
What is the Whistleblower Protection Act?
Whistleblower protection is provided by Federal acts and related statutes that shield employees from workplace retaliation for reporting illegal acts of employers. An employer cannot rightfully retaliate in the workplace in any way, such as wrongfully discharging, demoting, suspending or harassing the whistleblower. If an employer retaliates anyway, whistleblower protection might entitle the employee to file a charge with a government agency, sue the employer or both.
Typically, to be entitled to whistleblower protection, an employee must report an employer’s alleged illegal act to the proper authority, such as a government or law enforcement agency. If you have seen an illegal act at your workplace, a Los Angeles whistleblower attorney can assist you in contacting the proper authorities.
Who is Protected by the Whistleblower Act?
An employee might not be entitled to whistleblower protection for reporting an illegal act only within the company. However, the employee might be protected from retaliation in the workplace by public policy or other laws.
For example, if an employee reports sexual harassment to the company’s HR department, he or she is protected from workplace retaliation by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and cannot be fired for reporting the workplace sexual harassment. A wrongful termination lawyer can explain the differences to you in a free attorney consultation about wrongful termination for reporting illegal activity.
Am I Still Protected If I am Wrong about My Employer Breaking the Law?
Even if it turns out that an employer did not actually break a law, an employee is still entitled to whistleblower protection from retaliation, if he or she reasonably believed that the employer committed an illegal act.
However, whistleblower protection typically does not include employer retaliation for employee complaints about personal dislikes. To be protected from retaliation by an employer, an employee typically must report an alleged violation of a federal law that has provisions to shield whistleblowers. Though, at the state level, some whistleblowing policies protect whistleblowers who report alleged violations of any laws, regulations or ordinances. Collectively, such provisions are called whistleblower protections or whistleblower laws.
What are State and Federal Laws about Whistleblowing Cases?
Whistleblowing laws in California and federal whistleblower laws have provisions for employer retaliation protection and are enforced by a number of government agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and its divisions enforce several major laws that directly protect whistleblowers or have provisions to shield employees from retaliation for reporting violations of the laws, refusing to engage in any action made unlawful by the laws, or participating in any proceedings under the laws.
Federal whistleblower laws mandate only the minimums to which all states must adhere. States are allowed to create their own whistleblower laws, which include or expand upon the minimum protections afforded by the federal laws. To research your state’s whistleblower laws, start with the employment resources listed in State Labor Law and Employment Law. You can also contact your state’s department of labor.
Talk to a Whistleblower Attorney about How Laws Protect You
Before blowing the whistle, it is a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney in your state, to ensure a whistleblower law or a similar law may protect you.
If you have seen your employer conduct an illegal act and you are not sure how to handle the situation, contact a Los Angeles whistleblower attorney today to set up a completely confidential and free no-obligation whistleblower case consultation. As a whistleblower, you do have rights that need protecting. Our wrongful termination lawyers provide this question and answer free guide about whistleblowing in California.