What is a “whistleblower?”
A whistleblower is an employee that informs law enforcement or the government that he or she has a reasonable belief that their employer is violating state or federal law, or doing harm to the general public. Oftentimes these employees who are doing the right thing can suffer from illegal retaliation from their employer for giving this information to the proper authorities. There are state and federal laws to protect these victims.
What is the whistleblowing law in California?
This law pertains to all employers, and it is illegal for an employer to design rules or policies that retaliate against an employee who tells authorities about wrong, harmful or unlawful behavior. The employee must have a reasonable argument, and any claim they make to protect themselves must be made within ninety days of the retaliatory act to the State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
What qualifies as whistleblower activity that is protected?
Employees that report, put an end to, or testify about the illegal actions of their employers are typically protected, though the exact scope of protection varies per state. If you feel you have suffered retaliation as a protected whistleblower, you should consult an employment law attorney to determine if your actions are protected, and make a claim quickly, as there is a short statute of limitation for whistleblower cases. The time limit generally begins from the time a worker learns that they will be retaliated against, rather than the last day of their employment. Each state has a different time period, however, and Federal statues protect whistleblowers as well. Sometimes, these statutes can run out as quickly as thirty days.
What should I do if I suffer retaliation for being a whistleblower?
Victims of retaliation may recover different types of damages by state. Again, it would be wise to contact a local labor law attorney to determine how to pursue the claim.
What is Necessary to qualify for a whistleblower protection claim?
- The employer must be bound by the common law that is being violated.
- The employee must have engaged in protected whistleblower activity, and is also bound to the common law being violated.
- The employer knew that the employee has engaged in whistleblowing, and the retaliation must be motivated by this person’s activity.
- The employee was terminated, discriminated against, lost compensation or privileges, or suffered some type of wrong that their state has protected against.
- The employee can prove that they would not have been punished if they had not been engaged in protected whistleblower conduct.
How do I prove I am being retaliated against for whistleblowing?
You can make a case that you are suffering from retaliation by proving your employer knew about your protected conduct, and can prove that you were a quality employee with reports, positive reviews or if your employer had previously expressed satisfaction with your work record. If you can prove that other employees are being treated differently, or draw a link between your conduct and the timing of your retaliation, then you have a strong case against your employer. An employer’s history of retaliation or threats against other whistleblowers in the company will also help your case. Other factors include:
- The magnitude of the illegal activity the employer has done.
- Any negative treatment occurring shortly after the whistleblowing.
- A good track record at your job.
- Being accused of or punished for “disloyalty.”
Why Whistleblowing Laws are Important
Whistleblowing laws exist so that employers engaging in illegal or harmful activity can be stopped. If you have reported unethical conduct, you have done the right thing to protect the public and your fellow employees, and it is wrong to be made to suffer for that action.
Our firm gives whistleblowers a voice by educating them on state law, statutes of limitation, and types of damages that they could possibly recover. We make a living helping out the “little guy” and feel that nobody is above the law, no matter what a person’s position in the organization is, or how powerful the company may be.
We have been helping whistleblowers since our office opened in 1996 and are experts on these laws. We stay up to date with state and federal statues and communicate with our clients as partners. We will tell you what your options are and help you to flesh out the best strategy to make a claim so that you can recover damages for being disciplined for protected conduct.
If you are suffering retaliation for being a whistleblower, you may feel helpless, and we are here to empower you. Every case is different, so call us today or contact us on the site if you have any questions or concerns about your employment situation, or if you want to make a claim and need an expert in your corner.