Whistle blower protection not limited to first person reporting violations
In Hager vs County of Los Angeles, the issue was whether a subsequent reporter of illegal conduct could in fact claim whistle blower protection under California Labor Code 1102.5. A secondary issue under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA) was whether excluding evidence of the plaintiff’s prior alleged misconduct at the job was an error.
The Court of Appeals held that restricting whistle blower protection to the first person reporting the same conduct misconstrues the legislative history and intent of Labor Code 1102.5.
Learning lesson: Don’t be afraid to follow up a co-workers’ report of illegalities, especially if you don’t see your employer taking action to correct these mistakes. This would appear to be especially important in areas where public safety is involved, whether public (as in this case) or private (say, a private nursing facility operating in violation of Health and Safety issues such as staffing levels.
We support this decision as any judicial decision building an incentive to report wrongdoing appears to be supported by public policy. Workers who risk their livelihood to report illegal and unsafe activities by their California employers should not be denied the right to recover under appropriate state or federal statutes (such as the Federal False Claims Act or the State Whistle Blower Protection Act). We focus our practice on claims of wrongful termination, retaliation and termination in violation of public policy by California whistle blowers. Lets chat about your case.