The California Whistleblower Act and a score of other laws provide strong protections to employees who report illegal practices in the workplace. An employer is legally prohibited from retaliating against an employee for reporting any activity or practice that the employee suspects violates any federal, state, or local law to an outside agency or within the company. Employers who ignore this law and engage in reprisals against employee whistleblowers can be pursued for damages.
Whistleblowers perform a valuable service to the community by exposing and fighting wrongful conduct. Our San Bernardino whistleblower attorneys strongly believe that no employee should be penalized for doing the right thing, and aggressively protect the rights of employees who have suffered whistleblower retaliation.
Conduct that Qualifies for Whistleblower Protection
Whistleblower protections apply both when an employee reports to outside governmental agencies and to internal employee reports to someone within the organization who may have the power to take corrective actions, such as Human Resources or more senior management.
There are numerous examples of company wrongdoings that can give rise to whistleblower claims. For example, a bank may defraud its own customers by overbilling them or even falsifying financial documents. A hospital may violate regulations relating to patient or drug safety. A manufacturer or distributor may improperly handle and dispose of toxic chemicals and create safety hazards. An employee who reports any of the above abuses and is then retaliated against has legal claims against his or her employer.
Some other common whistleblower cases involve employees being terminated or suffering other reprisals for reporting:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations
- Selling defective or dangerous products
- Illegal accounting practices
- Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid billing fraud
- Lending or mortgage fraud
- Fraud in government contracts (Qui Tam Claims)
- Tax fraud, such as failure to pay sales taxes
- Money laundering
- Defrauding suppliers, clients, or customers
- Bribes, kickbacks or unlawful collusion
- Unlawful debt collection practices
Reasonable Belief as to Illegality
Even where an employee is mistaken and it ultimately turns out that there was no actual violation of the law, the employee is still protected from retaliation as long as he or she had a reasonable belief that a violation had occurred. This additional protection for whistleblowers reflects the policy of the legislature to encourage people to come forward whenever they reasonably suspect wrongdoing.
Types of Retaliatory Actions and Recovery against Employer
Unlawful retaliation against whistleblowers can be any serious action by the company that has a significant negative effect on the terms and condition of employment, including but not limited to termination, demotion, transfer to a different location or department, and decrease in pay or hours.
Employees who successfully bring a whistleblower claim can obtain back pay and other lost wages, emotional distress damages, San Bernardino whistleblower attorneys’ fees, and in some cases punitive damages. In addition to these damages, an employer may be required to pay a penalty of $10,000 for each violation of the whistleblower laws.
Contact Our San Bernardino Whistleblower Attorneys for Free Consultation
At Broslavsky & Weinman, our San Bernardino whistleblower lawyers are dedicated to representing employees who had the courage to do what’s right. Our San Bernardino whistleblower attorneys will thoroughly investigate your claim and will work diligently to help you get full and fair compensation for what you have endured. To have a free initial consultation with one of our San Bernardino Employment lawyers, you can call us at (909) 551-4455 or email us using the contact form on this page.
With offices in San Bernardino and Los Angeles, we provide representation to employees throughout all of San Bernardino County, including, but not limited to Ontario, Upland, Fontana, Redlands, and Rancho Cucamonga.
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