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Whistleblower Laws: Employee Protection and Benefits Associated with Blowing the Whistle

california-whistleblower-laws.jpgDeciding when to blow the whistle on the employer that pays you money to take care of yourself and your family is never an easy task. An employee becomes a whistleblower when he or she exposes the illegal actions or conduct of their employer. The actions of these whistleblowers provide a great service to our country and protect consumers, forcing companies and various other employers to abide by the rules or pay a hefty fine for their illegal conduct.

In California, the labor code provides protection for whistleblowers. It prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for disclosing information to the government or law enforcement agency when the employee has a reasonable cause to believe that a violation of state or federal statute has occurred.

Understanding Whistleblower Coverage

According to the California law and the California Division of Labor and Standards Enforcement, an employee who receives protection includes those employed by a variety of public or private employers in the state of California, which could include government organizations.

Protections Available to Whistleblowers

When a whistleblower reports the legal activity of an employer to the government or to a law enforcement agency, the employer is not permitted to:

  • Create any rule or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower;
  • Retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower;
  • Retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in illegal activity that would violate the law; or
  • Retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights as a whistleblower in past employment.

If an employer is found to have retaliated against you in one of the ways identified above, you may be entitled to a variety of damages, including reinstatement of your former employment position work benefits and lost wages.

Common Incidents to Consider When Determining Whether You Qualify for Whistleblower Protection

There are many situations that give rise to whistleblower protection. If you complained about the legal activity to your supervisor prior to going to the government or law enforcement agency, and were threatened or offered special benefits, you might be qualified for whistleblower protection. Likewise, if your employer has a policy of disciplining employees a certain way for certain actions and they completely ignored or changed the process when you complained of the illegal activity, you may also be qualified for whistleblower protection. Also, if management or coworkers treated you differently after reporting illegal activity to your supervisors, and even passed over you for promotions, you may also qualify for whistleblower protection.

Always remember that the more documentation you have of the actions taken by your employer, co-workers or management personnel, the stronger of a case you will have.

Consult an Attorney

If you were the victim of retaliation by your employer for reporting illegal activity to a supervisor, the government or a law enforcement agency, you should contact an experienced San Jose employment law attorney who will hold your employer accountable for your damages and get you the compensation you deserve. Call Diemer, Whitman & Cardosi, LLP at 408-971-6270 to schedule an initial consultation.

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