What is the California Whistleblowing Law?
California sets out many rights of employees, including the right to report unlawful conduct of an employer to the proper authorities. In fact, public policy in California encourages employees to do so, and the Labor Code protects such employees - called “whistleblowers” - from retaliation.
If one of your employees is accusing your company of violating state whistleblower laws, you should not delay in contacting our Encino employment lawyers for assistance in addressing the matter properly.
Whistleblowing in California
Employees are protected when they report violations or noncompliance of an employer with a federal law, state law, or a local, state or federal regulation, or safety rule. Employers cannot obstruct an employee from reporting or disclosing information to any of the following:
- Law enforcement agencies
- Government officials or agencies
- Managers or those in an authority position over the employee
- Human resources or someone else who has the authority to investigate and correct the misconduct
An employee might be the first one to report conduct they believe to be wrongful, or they might be called to be interviewed as part of the investigation into the conduct. Testifying or providing information as part of an investigation, inquiry, or legal proceeding is also protected under whistleblower laws. The requirement for protection is that the employee reasonably believed that the violation occurred.
Whistleblower Rules for Employers
As an employer, the law in California places several restrictions when it comes to whistleblowing employees. Specifically, employers may not:
- Have any policies that would prevent an employee from whistleblowing.
- Retaliate against a whistleblowing employee, which can include poor reviews, refusal of deserved promotions or pay raises, cuts in hours, undesirable shifts, harassment, termination, or other adverse employment actions.
- Retaliate against an employee who refuses to engage in conduct that would involve a violation of the law or regulations.
- Retaliate against an employee if the employer learns they previously were a whistleblower at a prior employer.
If an employer engages in any of the above prohibited behaviors, the employee has the right to take legal action. An employee can seek reinstatement to a job following termination for whistleblowing, compensation for lost income and benefits, and more. An employer can face penalties from the state, as well as liability to the employee.
Sometimes, employees report violations of whistleblowing laws that are not accurate, and employers who face such accusations should not ignore these situations. Instead, always seek legal representation from an employment attorney who can help you determine the best course of action. Sometimes, a lawyer can resolve the matter by clearing up certain misunderstandings of the employee. If an employee files a complaint with the state or a civil lawsuit, you want the right attorney defending your company against the allegations.
Contact an Encino Employment Law Attorney to Learn More
California takes its whistleblowing laws seriously, and if your company faces allegations, reach out to the legal team of Kaufman McAndrew LLP as soon as possible. Contact us for more information and to discuss your situation today.