Employees who report illegal or fraudulent activity, as well as any other labor violations in the workplace, are protected by both federal and state law. These whistleblower protection laws are meant to make sure employers do not retaliate against an employee who is doing the right thing and coming forward in such a difficult position. Unfortunately, however, sometimes employers will still take illegal action against a whistleblower to punish them or discourage others from acting similarly in the future. If you have been subjected to retaliation after reporting misconduct or fraud at work, the Orange County whistleblower protection attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm can help you stand up for your rights. Please contact our office today to speak with an attorney about your legal options.Protected Whistleblower Activities in California Workplaces
Generally, a ‘whistleblower’ is an employee who has observed illegal or fraudulent business practice in the workplace and takes action, either by reporting the practice to a superior in the company or directly to a governmental agency or law enforcement. Under federal and state law, whistleblowers are legally protected against any retaliation or punishment by their employers for making such reports. Some federal whistleblower laws include the False Claims Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. California protects whistleblowing employees in the state through various Labor Code sections as well as under the California Whistleblower Protection Act.
Protected whistleblower activities include the following:
- Reporting illegal, unethical, or dangerous workplace actions or behavior
- Filing wage or hour violation complaints
- Pursuing a worker’s compensation claim
- Reporting a fellow employee’s illegal action or misconduct
- Reporting violations of corporate policy
- Reporting workplace discrimination or harassment
- Exposing health or safety code violations
If you’ve engaged in any of the above whistleblowing activities and have been retaliated against by an employer or fear retaliation is forthcoming, it is important to speak with a seasoned whistleblower attorney in Orange County as soon as possible so that you are protected. An employer can take an array of actions against a whistleblower that are considered retaliation. Wrongful termination is one and possibly the most severe. However, other adverse actions such as creating a hostile work environment that makes an employee’s ability to do their job impossible is also an illegal retaliatory practice. Improper suspensions, demotions, denial of access to necessary resources as well as failure to promote a whistleblower are impermissible retaliations as well.
Under Section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has reported an activity they reasonably believe violates a state, federal or local law or regulation. Even in circumstances where no such violation turns out to exist, whistleblowers are still protected against retaliation where their suspicions were reasonable. Employees who have suffered harm from adverse actions by their employer can pursue a claim for retaliation. In these claims, it must be shown that it was more likely than not the employee had engaged in protected whistleblower activity, and that, as a result, the employee was subjected to an adverse employment action. A knowledgeable Orange County whistleblower protection attorney can help collect and assess evidence to help make this showing under the law.
Both the Federal and California False Claims Acts encourage employees to report an employer who is engaging in fraud in the performance of a government contract. These contracts can be with a municipal, state or federal agency. The fraud can be in relation to overbilling, underperformance, a violation of labor laws, as well as bribes or kickbacks. If your employer retaliates against you for participating in lawful reporting under the False Claims Act, they can be held liable for double back pay, interest, special damages as well as punitive damages. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, your employer may also be required to reinstate you to your former position.Southern California Whistleblower Protection Lawyers
The whistleblower protection attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm are committed to making sure Orange County employees know their rights and are able to exercise those rights completely and freely. We help clients not only in Orange County, but elsewhere in Southern California including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. If you have questions regarding your legal options following a retaliatory action by your employer, please contact our office at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or online to find out how we can help.