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Helping You Navigate Workplace Issues in California

California Whistleblower Lawyer

The federal government relies heavily on everyday citizens as one of its most crucial tools in fighting fraud at the highest level. As a whistleblower, an employee who witnesses or learns that his or her employer has defrauded the government stands to earn up to 25 percent of the lawsuit profit. Depending on the size of the lawsuit, that employee or group of employees may be awarded with hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. To ensure that employees do not face retaliation during or after the lawsuit, there are both state and federal protections for whistleblowers set in place. But are there risks involved? You may be wondering if your employer can retaliate or even take legal action against you. The answer is no. Your employer is barred from taking retaliatory measures such as termination, demotion, harassment, denial of promotion, and other types of work-related retaliation.If you have any questions, as you most surely do, about the process of filing a lawsuit on behalf of the government, contact the law office of Scott • Wagner and Associates today to schedule an appointment with one of our California whistleblower lawyers as soon as possible.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program

The Whistleblower Protection Program, under the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), prohibits employer retaliation on a federal level and enforces more than 20 whistleblower statutes. The Whistleblower Protection Program offers sanctuary to employees who learn of various infractions that violate the laws of workplace safety, consumer products, pipelines, maritime, food safety, environmental, commercial motor carrier, public transportation, railroad, health insurance reform, financial reform, airline, nuclear, securities, and motor vehicle safety. Additionally, whistleblower are protected under California state law, labor code section 1102.5. According to California’s Division of Labor, employees are “encouraged” to notify a law enforcement agency when they learn that their employer has violated or has not complied with state or federal statutes, rules, or regulations, and to provide information and testify in court. When it comes to protection against employer retaliation, the federal Whistleblower Protection Plan cannot take the place of state or local protections.

What Counts as Grounds for a Serious Violation?

Not all sly or dishonest business practices are illegal. There must be specific statutes, rule, or regulations that were violated for a whistleblower lawsuit to have any merit. Whistleblowers only have a case against their employer when one or more of the following has occurred:

  • Violation of state or federal statute;
  • Violation of or noncompliance with federal, state, or local rule/regulation; or
  • Employee safety and health is of concern, such as unsafe working conditions or practices.

Public and Private Employees

According to the California Labor Code, employees are protected from retaliation by their employers for reporting violations of law or public policy. This includes employees who work in the private sector as well as those employed in the public sector. This means that workers employed by private corporations have as much of a right to report discrimination or harassment as do those employed by the state, county, city, school district, public corporation, political subdivision, or the University of California. Initially, this protection was only extended to those who reported to a public agency, but after the passage of a new law in 2014, protection was extended to employees who knew of or suspected illegal behavior and reported it either:

  • Internally to a person of authority; or
  • Externally to any public body conducting an investigation, inquiry, or hearing.

Both federal and state law protect employees from retaliatory measures taken by their employers in response to the report of a violation.

Seeking the Consultation of an Attorney Before Going Ahead with a Whistleblowing Case

Whistleblower lawsuits are complex, and those who speak out against their employers may potentially find it difficult to work in their field again if they do not take the appropriate steps. If you have any questions, as you most surely do, about the process of filing a lawsuit on behalf of the government, the experienced California whistleblower lawyers of Scott • Wagner and Associates can be reached for a consultation. We also consult with employers to help ensure that they are always in compliance with all state and federal statutes and regulations so that they never have to deal with a whistleblower lawsuit.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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