In California, a whistleblower is considered an individual who reports an employer's violations of the law, regulations, policies, or rights or bears witness to other illegal conduct that creates unsafe working environments or conditions for employees or exposes the public to danger. However, coming forward as a whistleblower is not always without burdens or challenges. Many whistleblowers face discrimination and other forms of retaliation by simply trying to do what is necessary to ensure the workplace and its duties return to an ethical state, with safety and the well-being of all employees at the forefront and everyone's rights protected.
The California Whistleblower Protection Act, known as California Labor Code Section 1102.5, is designed to encourage workplace whistleblowers to inform authorities when they discover unlawful acts without fear of retaliation. In addition, the Whistleblower Protection Act underwent amendments to include employee protections for internal reports of illegal wrongdoing as well as external whistleblowing to public bodies. California's Whistleblower legislation extends to all public and private employment. However, there are still many ways employers and coworkers violate state and federal whistleblower protections.
Retaliation is a form of payback or revenge, and retaliation toward the whistleblower can, unfortunately, be quite common. Retaliation comes in many shapes and often originates from the employer.
An employer who takes measures detrimental to an employee's career in response to an employee reporting a violation of their rights or assisting in an investigation is considered to have engaged in workplace retaliation.
Under the California retaliation laws and Whistleblower Protection Act, employees who either report or aid in the investigation of the following are protected:
An employee can be subjected to retaliation after speaking up about wrongdoing or filing a complaint as a whistleblower. Some examples of workplace retaliation include but are not limited to the following:
Retaliation complaints may be filed with state and federal government agencies. If you feel safe and comfortable doing so, you may choose to report retaliation incidents to human resources. Be sure to keep a record of all retaliation events, including noting the time and date and any potential witnesses. You should save any correspondence related to the matter, make copies of written and virtual documentation, and keep all evidence organized. Whenever you or someone you love experiences retaliation after reporting a violation or requires assistance navigating the process, don't hesitate to contact an experienced employment litigation attorney.