If you have witnessed illegal or unsafe conduct in your place of employment, but were afraid to report it to the authorities because you were worried you might lose your job, you should know that there are state and federal laws designed to protect you from retaliation by your employer. For example, the federal law known as "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002" prohibits retaliation against employees of publicly-traded companies who report to the government or their supervisor reasonable suspicions of federal law violations or assist an SEC investigation. 18 U.S.C. § 1513(e).
The state of California has several laws designed to protect whistleblowers, as well.
- Labor Code § 1102.5: prohibits retaliation against employees who blow the whistle to a government agency on, or refuse to participate in, violations of laws and regulations in the workplace.
- Health & Safety Code § 1278.5: prohibits retaliation against doctors, nurses and medical staff who blow the whistle to the government or accrediting agencies on medical patient care issues at a health facility.
- Labor Code § 98.6: prohibits retaliation against employees who file a complaint for labor code violations with the Labor Commissioner or the Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing.
- Labor Code 6399.7: prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a complaint or testifying on occupational safety and health matters.
- Gov’t. Code 12653: prohibits retaliation against employees who report to the government any fraudulent billings that were submitted for payment to the government.
The whistleblower must prove the retaliation for whistleblowing was a motivational factor in their employer’s decision to treat them adversely. If the retaliation happened immediately after the whistleblower blew the whistle, that would be excellent evidence of retaliation. In some cases, such “proximity in time” even turns the tables on the employer so that the burden is now on them to prove that they were acting lawfully when taking adverse actions against the employee.
A whistleblower who wins their case against their employer can recover damages, such as lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, job reinstatement, punitive damages and attorney fees.
If you have suffered wrongful termination or other illegal adverse actions from your employer, please give my office, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman a call at (877) 449-8898 for a free consultation.