Two former employees of Six Flags in Vallejo have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after the theme park fired them for blowing the whistle on the harsh treatment of animals. One of the fired employees had warned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that Six Flags was not complying with water quality regulations. Poor water quality allegedly led to the deaths of two dolphin calves, and caused respiratory problems and fungal infections in others.
Last year, the USDA inspected the theme park’s water quality after several dolphins became ill or died. The report, which concluded that water quality was the culprit, gives the lawsuit filed against Six Flags more credibility.
How Are Whistleblowers Protected in California?
This case against Six Flags presents an opportunity to discuss whistleblower protections. California whistleblower protections ensure employees who have reported violations of state or federal laws, rules and regulations cannot face retaliation from their employers. In the example of the two Six Flags employees, they faced job termination for notifying the USDA of regulation noncompliance.
Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers can face several costly consequences. Whistleblowers might be able to file wrongful termination lawsuits against their employers if they are fired. In addition, employers can face fines for each violation. The two former Six Flags employees were not raising alarm bells to hurt their employer, but to report violations that were going unaddressed by the theme park.
California employees have several options for reporting illegal activity or regulation violations under whistleblower protections. Whistleblowers can report internally to superiors or externally to agencies or parties carrying out investigations.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles Employment Attorneys