Could I get Fired for Being a Whistleblower?
Fundamentally, a whistleblower is an employee who reports illegal activity occurring at their workplace. It can also be a person who refuses to participate in activities that violate federal or state law. At the workplace, we are always encouraged to say something when we see something is not right. However, we hear stories of people who have done exactly that and ended up getting terminated from their jobs.How do You Know the Activity Done is Illegitimate?
Most importantly, if you feel like the activity is illicit, it may be so. However, it is important that you must be not only guided by your gut but also do some research regarding what your employer is doing. Sometimes, after reporting the illegal activity, an employer will investigate, and take the necessary steps to stop such action. In the best-case scenario, those committing illegal acts will be disciplined, and you will remain in your job. In a less favorable sequence of events (this happens more often), you may be retaliated against for whistleblowing, get terminated or be forced to resign.
Although it is unlawful to terminate you for engaging in protected activity such as whistleblowing, many people have been retaliated and terminated.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") and California Labor Code, Section 1102.5 among a few that protect whistleblowers from being retaliated against. The employer can be subject to civil penalties and/or required to reinstate the terminated employee. The employer will also be subject to pay for the employee’s lost work benefits, loss of wages, emotional distress, and exemplary damages.
The protections on California Labor Code, Section 1102.5 are the following:
- An employer cannot enforce any rules that could keep an employee from being a whistleblower.
- An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who refuses to commit illicit acts.
- An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising their whistleblower rights.
If you have been retaliated and/or wrongfully terminated, we encouraged you to seek legal action immediately. Know you are not alone and attorneys at Serendib Law have experience in handling whistleblowing cases. We have represented clients in the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Contact us at (714) 703-1300 or fill out a form online.