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Can I Sue If I Was Fired for Being a Whistleblower?

Can I Sue If I Was Fired for Being a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are protected under California law

Can I Sue If I Was Fired for Being a Whistleblower?

The term “whistleblower” is commonly used, particularly in big news stories. A government employee might blow the whistle on fraud and corruption, for example, taking down high ranking officials and causing a nationwide media circus.

Yet whistleblowing happens on a much smaller level as well. As a California employment attorney, a person can file a report about a range of illegal or immoral activities. It might not make the news, but it can have a serious impact on the people who work there and the broader community. For example, if you work for a manufacturing plant and report that they are illegally dumping chemicals, you could be preventing an environmental disaster and harm to an untold number of people.

If you are considering becoming a whistleblower, you may be worried about what it means for you personally. You might want to tell someone that your employer is hiring undocumented immigrants and paying them far below minimum wage, for example, but believe that your boss will retaliate against you if you do so.

There are a number of laws that protect Californians from retaliation if they blow the whistle on wrongful activity. Each of these laws protects specific types of whistleblowing activity. They include laws such as:

  • California Labor Code 1102.5, which protects employees who disclose a violation of the law to government or law enforcement agency, or to a person with authority over the employee, or to an employee with the authority to investigate or correct the situation, or who provides information or testifies about what they reasonably believe is a violation of a law. This is a broad protection meant to shield a range of employees from whistleblower retaliation.
  • California Labor Code 98.6 protects employees who report violations of the Labor Code to the California Labor Commissioner.
  • California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits retaliation against employees who report violations of occupational health and safety rules to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
  • California Whistleblower Protection Act protects state public employees who report certain violations.
  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits retaliation against an employee who reports harassment or discrimination.

So what happens if you are a whistleblower, and your employer fires you, demotes you, or takes another adverse employment action against you? In this situation, a California employment attorney can help you seek justice. For violations of certain laws, you will be required to file a complaint with the appropriate state agency before proceeding to a lawsuit. For other laws, such as violations of the labor code, you can choose to file a complaint with the agency first or go directly to a lawsuit. You may be able to recover damages for the losses that you have suffered, including lost wages, emotional distress, reinstatement, and even punitive damages.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or otherwise treated unfairly after blowing the whistle on illegal or immoral activity, PLBSH is here for you. For more than 40 years, we have represented employees who have suffered harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and more. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com to schedule a consultation with a California employment attorney.

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