Whistleblower Retaliation FAQ
Making the decision to report wrongful actions taken in the workplace is a difficult one. Employees are often faced with questions about what an employer might do if they find that it was you who made the report. The Orange County whistleblower retaliation attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm help employees explore their rights when engaging in protected activities such as exposing illegal or fraudulent practices at work. The following are the most frequently asked questions an employee who is thinking of, or has, reported workplace misconduct often ask.
- What Exactly is a 'Whistleblower'?
- What are Considered 'Whistleblowing Activities'?
- What Laws Protect Whistleblowers?
- How do I Know if I Have Been Suffered From Retaliation?
- What if I Report Suspicious Workplace Behavior That Ends Up Not Being Improper?
- How do You Prove Retaliation?
- What Compensation am I Owed?
- What Legal Options do I Have After Being Retaliated Against by My Employer?
A 'whistleblower' is an employee who observes illegal or fraudulent business practices at work and either reports the actions higher up within the company or directly to a governmental agency or law enforcement.
Various situations fall under a protected activity by a whistleblower including reporting illegal or dangerous workplace conditions; wage and hour violation complaints; reporting internal corporate policy violations; as well as filing worker's compensation or discrimination complaints.
Federal and state statutes protect employees who report wrongdoings by their employers or other individuals at work. Employers are prohibited from retaliating or punishing employees who engage in whistleblowing activities. Contacting an experienced whistleblower retaliation lawyer in Orange County is important to determining under what statute the violations of your rights falls, as there are numerous laws involved. Federally, these laws include the False Claims Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under state law, the Labor Code and the California Whistleblower Protection Act offer further protection to employees.
'Retaliation' is any adverse action your employer takes in response to your whistleblowing activity. Employers can retaliate against employees by firing them for illegal reasons or creating work environment so hostile the employee is no longer able to perform their job. Retaliatory actions can also manifest as improper suspensions, demotions, or failure to promote a deserving whistleblower.
If you have a reasonable belief illegal activity has occurred in the workplace, your employer is still not allowed to take retaliatory action against you. As long as the suspicions were reasonable, and reporting the alleged actions were based on that reasonability, you are legally protected even if no violations have actually occurred. An Orange County employment attorney will be able to further advise you of your rights in these circumstances.
For a whistleblower to succeed in a retaliation claim to succeed, it must be shown that they engaged in protected activity and suffered an adverse employment action connected to that protected activity. Proximity of an employee engaging in a protected activity and suffering the adverse action is often indicative of a relation between the two. Other evidence of an employee's past good performance reviews and good standing within the workplace is helpful in these types of claims.
If a whistleblower retaliation claim is successful, an employee may recover back pay as well as emotional damages and, in some cases, punitive damages. In instances of wrongful termination, an employer might be ordered to return an employee to their prior position. Each case is different and compensation can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your situation and factors such as how your physical and mental health has been affected as well as whether an employer has a history of similar misconduct.
If you have suffered retaliation at work due to your status as a whistleblower, the employment law attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm are available to answer your questions about your rights and options. We represent employees throughout Orange County as well as across Southern California including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Please contact our office today at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or online to further discuss your potential claims.