A whistleblower is a person (often an employee or a contractor) who brings any form of illegal or unethical behavior on the part of a business or organization to the attention of the relevant person or body within the same organization, and/or to the police, government, or wider public consciousness.
Such behavior may take the form of violations of laws or regulations, company policies and rules, corruption, fraud, or any other form of wrongdoing. Sometimes, the information brought to light by whistleblowers can have direct repercussions in terms of public safety, national security and other important issues, and as such, the business or organization perpetrating the offense will often try to prevent whistleblowing, or retaliate against the whistleblower themselves.
In order to protect both the public interest and individual whistleblowers, a number of laws are in place to protect whistleblowers from such retaliation, which may be perpetrated by the guilty parties in order to prevent or deny the release of the information in question, or to later cover it up. In the interest of upholding public policy, citizens are protected under federal and state law from being unfairly targeted. Employees should not be afraid of retaliation from their employers if they report safety violations or illegal activity.
Taking the decision to become a whistleblower is one that no one makes lightly, given the potential repercussions that can accompany the decision; if you have made that difficult decision, contact Walker Law first for advice and advocacy.
A whistleblower refers to an employee who has complained about illegal activity at his or her workplace. Whistleblower claims can include the following:
Employers are governed by many laws and regulations, including wage and hour labor laws and standards upheld by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Whistleblower laws protect employees from retaliation if an employer’s potential violation is alleged, even if the official charge is later found to be untrue.
An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who files a complaint against the company under federal law, the California Labor Code, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Reporting another employee’s illegal or unethical behavior, voicing concerns about racial discrimination or sexual harassment, testifying on behalf of someone else’s complaint, or reporting fraudulent practices in the workplace are all examples of whistleblowing activities.
In fact, federal whistleblower statutes reward and protect people who expose certain types of fraud. A whistleblower may be entitled to a percentage of any funds recovered by the government in some cases. Whistleblowers who file “Qui Tam” lawsuits against a company for fraudulent activities affecting the federal government may receive millions of dollars.
A qui tam lawsuit is a case filed by a private citizen on behalf of the government against a company based on a report of corrupt behavior. The person reporting fraud against the government is known as a qui tam plaintiff. Qui tam plaintiffs are almost always employees due to their access to inside knowledge, but a plaintiff can be anyone. In a qui tam action, a plaintiff typically starts as a “relator”, the first person to bring the case to the government’s attention. Laws are designed to protect qui tam plaintiffs and relators from employers who attempt to retaliate against their employees.
Whistleblower laws protect a variety of activities. Depending upon the state, protection can begin as soon as management suspects the employee will testify in a future legal proceeding. The four main types of protected activity are as follows: reporting, filing, testifying, and opposing.
Not all types of activities are protected. The level of protection will be determined by the whistleblowing laws that apply in the particular case.
To recover in a whistleblower retaliation claim, the plaintiff must successfully demonstrate they have damages that warrant recovery. Examples of damages include:
Deadlines for filing a whistleblower retaliation grievance can be surprisingly quick, especially for union members. Depending on the employer and the type of action faced, a plaintiff may be required to file a claim right away. Contact our whistleblowing and retaliation lawyers today to ensure you do not miss your deadline.
If you have suffered as a result of your whistleblower status or intend to become a whistleblower in San Diego, it is important to seek qualified legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity in order to protect your own interests and avoid potential retaliation.
If you have already become a whistleblower and have been victimized as a result of your actions, we can help. At Walker Law, we offer a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your situation and determine the viability of your case. If both parties agree to enter a relationship, our team will work closely with you by outlining a plan that will protect you from whistleblower retaliation in San Diego.
Whistleblower cases are often complex and highly specialized. Examples of whistleblower and retaliation cases and scenarios that we handle here at Walker Law include:
These are just a few common examples; please contact a specialist San Diego Whistleblower attorney if you have been subjected to any such treatment, or if your problem is not covered here. Walker Law offers a free, no obligation initial consultation in cases of whistleblowing and retaliation, so get in touch now for support and to find out more.