When unlawful activity occurs in the workplace, many are tempted to look away as they fear for their employment. However, there are laws in place to protect “whistleblowers” from retaliatory conduct, and at Attorneys for Employees (AFE) our Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney team combines our extensive experience with the protection provided by these laws to ensure our clients receive the protection they deserve.
About Retaliation in the Workplace
In the workplace, employees benefit from a range of federal and state laws that protect them from retaliation when engaging in activities deemed as protected. If you believe that you have faced adverse actions at work due to filing a complaint, inquiring about your hours or wages, “blowing the whistle,” or participating in other safeguarded activities, you may have grounds for seeking damages.
Workplace retaliation occurs when an employee experiences adverse actions, such as termination, as a direct result of engaging in a protected activity. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations enforces an extensive set of laws prohibiting discrimination and retaliation. Under California’s Labor Code §230(e), employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against employees who are victims of crime or abuse, provided the employer has been informed or has actual knowledge of the employee’s status.
To explore the viability of your case, we encourage you to reach out to our dedicated Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney team for a free consultation to learn about the specifics of your potential case.
Identifying Responsible Parties for Workplace Retaliation
When facing workplace retaliation as described above, your employer may be held accountable. Retaliation can be instigated by managers, supervisors, or administrators acting within their authority on behalf of the company. To ascertain whether you have a claim regarding workplace retaliation, a Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney can assess the facts and navigate the relevant laws applicable to your unique circumstances.
Protected Employee Activities Shielded from Retaliation
Numerous regulations are in place to prohibit harassment, intimidation, and retaliation against employees engaging in a variety of activities, including:
- Disclosing information to the government or law enforcement agencies
- Refusing to participate in illegal activities
- Whistleblowing on suspected criminal activities by an employer
- Cooperating with and providing information to governmental bodies investigating potential violations by an employer
Employee rights within the workplace are safeguarded by various federal acts, statutes, state laws, and common laws. Our attorneys can guide you in identifying the specific laws that apply to your situation and protect your interests.
About California’s Whistleblower Protection Act
California is a state that affords significant protection to whistleblowers through the Whistleblower Protection Act. The purpose of this act is to ensure that employees who report illegal conduct by their employer do not suffer retaliation at the hands of that employer. Specifically, the act includes the following provisions:
- In addition to providing protection to state and federal whistleblowers, the act also covers employees in the private sector
- Reports of wrongdoing made to government officials, including the police, are protected
- Reports of wrongdoing made internally are protected, as well as those made to any public body that may conduct a hearing or investigation
- Disclosure of the wrongful conduct does not have to be the responsibility of the party making the report in order for the protections afforded under the act to apply
- Liability extends not only to the employer but also to anyone acting on their behalf, such as a third-party contractor
If you are an employee and suffer retaliation, you may be able to seek recovery for loss of income, benefits, emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Federal Protection for Whistleblowers
There are various statutes that provide protection for whistleblowers on a federal level. The most commonly cited is the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) (5 U.S.C §2302 (b)(8)), which protects federal employees (or applicants for federal employment) who disclose information that they reasonably believe to be evidence of:
- a violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
- gross mismanagement;
- a gross waste of funds;
- an abuse of authority;
- a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Examples of Retaliatory Conduct
Retaliatory conduct against a whistleblower may take different forms, including:
- Denial of promotion that has been earned
- Termination from employment
- An involuntary transfer or demotion
- Threats or other forms of intimidation
- An unfair, poor performance review
- Suspension from employment
- Denial of bonus or other benefits
- Exposure to a hostile work environment
- Refusal to offer the employee a higher wage/salary
- Denying time off
Often the retaliation follows a certain action, as retaliation by definition is a response to something. The most common of these are experienced by employees after they take FMLA leave, report fraud, “blow the whistle”, report harassment or discrimination, or take medical leave (including paternity or maternity leave).
Requirements to Secure Whistleblower Protection
If you believe you have information that qualifies you as a whistleblower (should you choose to report it), you will need to be careful to ensure that you receive the protections afforded under the law. Different whistleblower statutes have different requirements for securing protection; and if you do not take all of the necessary steps within the timeframe that is allowed, you could lose your eligibility. For example, depending on the law that applies, you may be subject to requirements with respect to:
- How long you have to report the information
- The state or federal agency to which you must report the information
- The nature and substantiality of the information you provide
If you do not meet all of the relevant requirements, you may not qualify for whistleblower protection even if you report the information you have. As a result, if you are thinking about blowing the whistle on your employer, we strongly encourage you to contact us so that one of our Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney members can help guide you forward.
Along with helping you secure whistleblower protection, our attorneys can help you protect your other legal rights as well. For example, if you are blowing the whistle on harassment or discrimination in the workplace, our attorneys can help you seek additional remedies under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), or any other anti-harassment or anti-discrimination laws that may apply.
Understanding Your Rights as a Whistleblower in Los Angeles
Just as different laws establish different requirements for securing whistleblower protection, employees’ rights under the various California and federal whistleblower statutes vary as well. Generally speaking, however, your rights as a whistleblower in Los Angeles include:
- The Right to Protection Against Employment-Related Retaliation – When you qualify as a whistleblower, you are entitled to protection against employment-related retaliation. This includes not only protection against termination, but also protection against all of the other examples of retaliatory conduct listed above.
- The Right to Financial Compensation for Unlawful Retaliation – If your employer unlawfully retaliates against you after you blow the whistle, you can seek financial compensation for your employer’s violation of the law. This includes compensation for your loss of income and benefits, emotional trauma, and harm to your professional reputation.
- The Right to Punitive Damages for Malicious Retaliation – In some cases, employees can also recover punitive damages if their employers engage in malicious retaliation. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to any financial compensation owed. Malicious retaliation involves intentionally attempting to cause financial, emotional or reputational harm through adverse employment action.
In many cases, whistleblowers will be entitled to additional financial compensation if the information they provide leads to a successful government enforcement action. For example, in qui tam cases under the California Whistleblower Protection Act, eligible whistleblowers can receive rewards of 15 to 33 percent of the funds recovered by the government. The federal False Claims Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and Securities and Exchange Act (among other federal laws) include whistleblower reward provisions as well.
The Risk of Retaliation Despite Legal Protections
It is crucial to acknowledge that despite the legal prohibition against retaliation, there is still a possibility of facing negative repercussions, including termination or other adverse outcomes, when taking action. Unscrupulous employers engaged in unlawful conduct may be less concerned about the potential consequences of their retaliatory actions. Additionally, some employers may attempt to resolve the issue by terminating or disciplining the employee involved.
It is essential to recognize that while statutes provide a foundation for seeking compensation from employers engaging in retaliation, pursuing a claim can carry risks, including the potential loss of your job. However, an employment lawyer can assist you in taking legal action against your employer to seek redress for lost wages, emotional distress, legal expenses, and any other losses you may incur. Their expertise and guidance can help you navigate the complexities of the process and protect your rights.
The Courageous Act of Whistleblowing: Upholding Integrity and Promoting Accountability
Whistleblowing is an act of courage and integrity that plays a crucial role in ensuring accountability and transparency in our workforce. When individuals witness wrongdoing or illegal activities within their organization, speaking up and blowing the whistle is not only important but honorable. Whistleblowers often face significant challenges and potential backlash, making their decision to expose misconduct even more commendable.
Whistleblowing serves the greater good by shedding light on unethical or illegal practices that could harm the public, employees, or the environment. Whether it involves corporate fraud, safety violations, financial improprieties, or other misconduct, whistleblowers act as watchdogs, alerting authorities and the public to potential dangers. Their actions can prevent further harm, protect the vulnerable, and contribute to a more just society.
The men and women who call out wrong behaviors are upholding ethical standards. Whistleblowers choose to prioritize truth and justice over personal interests or the fear of reprisal. By stepping forward, they exemplify values such as honesty, accountability, and responsibility, setting an example for others within the organization and the community.
Whistleblowing also plays a vital role in holding powerful entities accountable. In many cases, wrongdoings may go unnoticed or be deliberately concealed within institutions. Whistleblowers provide the critical information necessary to expose corruption, fraud, or systemic issues that may have far-reaching implications. Their actions can prompt investigations, legal actions, and reforms, leading to increased transparency, improved regulations, and, ultimately, a safer and fairer society.
We have been in this business for a long time. We understand and recognize that the decision to “blow the whistle” is not an easy one. Whistleblowers often face significant personal and professional risks, including retaliation, loss of employment, damage to their reputation, and even legal repercussions. Sometimes, it comes at a great personal cost to call out their employer, and their willingness to endure these challenges demonstrates their commitment to truth and justice.
We commend your decision to speak up and want to remind you that a call to our law firm to learn about your options and help decide what next step to take is confidential. Our Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney team is standing by to help you.
How a Los Angeles Employment Retaliation Attorney Can Help
Let us alleviate some of the burdens and help make your employment situation better. These laws are complex, and we know you have a lot on the line – your reputation, financial stability, and peace of mind. Our team can help in the following ways:
- Answer your questions for free during a consultation
- Provide an evaluation of your allegations and determine how we may be able to assist
- Evaluate the damages you have suffered
- Offer a recommendation for how to move forward
- Coordinate with your employer for a settlement
- Act as the main point of contact for all correspondence
- File a lawsuit
- Represent you at trial, if needed
- Provide resources for support and guidance
The first step in fighting against retaliation and learning about your options for whistleblowing is to call our law offices. There is no risk in speaking with an experienced retaliation lawyer to learn more information. We are standing by to help and value that you have chosen our California employment law firm to represent you and your employment-related matter. We work hard for hardworking men and women – people like you – and we look forward to helping you take the next step toward protecting your rights.
Let A Los Angeles Employer Retaliation Attorney Protect You
If you have reported your employer for wrongdoing, or if you are considering reporting your employer for wrongdoing and want to be sure you are afforded every protection under the law, you need to speak with a Los Angeles employer retaliation attorney at AFE. We specialize in assisting employees from all walks of life and are able to help you through the process. Contact us by filling out our intake form.