Whistleblowing occurs when an employee has a good faith belief that his or her employer, including a supervisor, is doing something illegal and reports it. Whistleblowing is a daunting task, because retaliation is a real threat. Good people who have reported wrongdoing in the workplace have suffered retaliation so much that California enacted a law specifically to protect the good people who step up and report employer wrongdoing.
The law prevents employers from making or adopting policies that prevent an employee from reporting legal violations. employers are prevented from making or adopting policies that prevent an employee from reporting such violations. In addition, employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who discloses what he or she reasonably believes is a violation of law to a government or law enforcement agency. It is important to know that your claim is much stronger if you make your report to an outside governmental agency (e.g. OSHA or Department of Fair Housing and Employment). Reporting wrongdoing internally to a manager or co-worker is not sufficient unless you work for a public entity.
Further, the fact that employees only need a good-faith belief that they were reporting wrongdoing is significant. This means that ultimately, if the employee turns out to be mistaken about a law being violated, he or she is still protected. Other whistleblower protection provisions involve anti-retaliation provisions for refusing to participate in an activity that an employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of the law. If you have reported conduct by your employer that you have reason to believe constitutes a violation of law, and you were fired or threatened with termination, you may be a “whistleblower” and may be entitled to compensation.
Potter Handy, Employment Law Group has successfully handled countless whistleblower claims. If you feel you have been a victim of retaliation for whistleblowing, call our office for a free consultation.