Employers have a responsibility to keep workplaces safe and healthy. Unfortunately, some employers engage in illicit activities that may put the employees or company in precarious situations. Employees may find themselves between a rock and a hard place when reporting their employers. Alerting authorities of a company’s illegal activity is usually the first step for a better workplace for yourself, coworkers, and future employees.
Our Los Angeles employment law team details what rights and protections employees have should they report illegal activity
What is a Whistleblower?
A “whistleblower” is an employee who discloses to a government or law enforcement agency unsafe or illegal workplace activities or conditions. Some of the most common whistleblower cases involve employee reporting;
- Sexual harassment
With legal consequences to come, the employer may attempt to retaliate against the employee who reported against them. Retaliatory actions can range from subtle harassment to outright persecution. Examples include:
- Cutting hours
- Reducing salary
- Denying promotions or pay raises
- Terminating or demoting the employee
Deciding to report a company can seem daunting as no one wants to be bullied by an institution. Thankfully, protection is provided by the law, making it unlawful to punish those who come forth, preventing further employee victimization. The United States Government has been setting protections for whistleblowers for more than 150 years and has paid out more than $4 billion towards whistleblowing cases since 1986.
How Will I Be Protected?
The U.S Government has set in place several laws and regulations to protect whistleblowers. These protections further incentivize employees to come forth to report wrong corporate doings. California’s Labor Code, section 230(e) expressly prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee. Let’s explore the safeguards afforded to whistleblowers.
False Claims Act
The False Claim Act is known to be one of the most robust protections for whistleblowers in the United States. Originally signed into law in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, this act allows private persons to file a lawsuit against entities who directly or indirectly defrauded the federal government. The federal government can file its own False Claims Act lawsuit; the most successful outcomes have come from whistleblower filed cases.
Federal Whistleblower Protection Act
In 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), which, as the name suggests, also protects federal employees who whistleblow. As a supplement to (WPA), Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) in 2012 to strengthen existing protections for employees reporting employer misconduct.
The Dodd-Frank Act expanded the protections for whistleblowers, broadening the prohibitions against retaliation. The Dobb-Frank protects the following three types of whistleblowing activities;
- Providing information to an enforcement agency
- Participating in investigations or actions by enforcement agencies
- Disclosures are required or protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
It is critical to be proactive when reporting workplace corruption. Under the False Claim Act, you may be entitled to a financial reward. Each case is unique and holds its particularities. Those who need support may benefit by working with attorneys who have experience with employment law.
Your Next Step
Filing a whistleblower complaint takes a lot of courage and we are here to help you. At Southern California Labor Law Group PC, our seasoned employment law team will guide you every step of the way to ensure you are protected.
To get a free consultation, call today at (424) 306-1515.