ARE YOU A WHISTLEBLOWER?
California has enacted strict protections for whistleblowers in the workplace. Public policy and common sense dictate that if a company is doing something illegal to its own employees, or is doing something so egregious that its own employees feel the need to complain, either to supervisors or to a State agency, then those employees should be protected and even encouraged to report that illegal behavior.
The first question is, do you have knowledge, or are you a victim, of some illegal behavior on the part of your employer? OR are you engaged in some sort of “protected activity” under California law of Federal Law and being discriminated against or penalized because of it?
An employee has the right, and perhaps an obligation, to report any acts of illegal activity or fraud against the government or against employees. Private companies or State agencies can be perpetrators of illegal activity. Some examples of behavior you should report are:
- wage fraud (not paying you for earned overtime, or reporting your wages incorrectly)
- penalizing employees for jury duty service
- complaining about a safety or health hazard
- requiring you to engage in hazardous working situations
- Medicare or Medicaid Fraud• violations of your right to vote, or many other rights
- discrimination, etc.
If you report any of the above listed items, either to your supervisor or to a government agency, and then are penalized in any way by your employer, you come under the protections afforded by the Whistle blower Act.
There are many other examples of employer conduct that you are allowed to report and be free from retaliation. If you have questions about a particular employer practice, please contact our offices to discuss the matter with one of our attorneys.
Once you have decided to report a violation by your employer, it is important for you to begin documentation of your report and any discriminatory behavior on the part of your employer. Examples of discriminatory behavior could include:
- reduction in hours for no reason or for a false reason
- hostility from supervisors or other employees that is not addressed immediately upon reporting
- denial of promotions or other benefits, etc.
Again, this list is NOT exhaustive. If there are other acts on the part of your employer after you’ve reported their illegal activity, please contact one of our offices and speak to an attorney to determine whether your rights are being violated.
You should take notes on and keep track of:
- what activity your reported, and to whom
- the dates of your report
- employer activity against you, that you feel is not justified
- the dates of such activity and who is involved
- comments from supervisors and other employees, including names and dates
- emails and telephone messages, etc.
Complete documentation on your part makes our job much easier when it comes time to determine whether there has been a violation of your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
In our next article, we will provide a CASE IN POINT that will give you a practical example of the issues we have discussed here.
Stephen Danz & Associates is California’s largest statewide law firm that’s dedicated to representing employees in disputes against their employers. Stephen Danz & Associates based in Los Angeles, California, protects clients all over the State from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications. Additionally we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage, or given the proper meal breaks. If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination or retaliation because you are a whistleblower, contact our Los Angeles office to set up your free consultation to discuss this matter with our lawyers. We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.