Whistleblower Retaliation Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Berardino, and Ventura Counties

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower in the employment world is an individual, usually an employee, who exposes some kind of information or activity within a private, public, or government organization that is deemed illegal, unethical, or otherwise improper. The revealed misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption.

Whistleblowers sometimes “blow the whistle” internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization).  Sometimes this happens externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).

It’s important to note that many jurisdictions have laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting an organization’s misconduct. This is to ensure that individuals can speak out without fear of reprisal when they see something wrong in their organizations.

Risks to the Whistleblower

Whistleblowing comes with some risk. Whistleblowing can involve risks to one’s person’s career, reputation, and even life. However, despite these risks and potential consequences, it’s also important to remember that whistleblowing plays a crucial role in exposing illegal activities and unethical behavior in organizations, and many whistleblowers are driven by a strong sense of integrity and justice.

Why Whistleblowers Should Speak with an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, or San Bernardino

Navigating the complexities of whistleblower laws and programs necessitates specialized legal knowledge, which is why an employment lawyer is a valuable asset. These laws are quite intricate, with various rights, processes, and potential outcomes that may not be immediately apparent to those unfamiliar with them. Legal counsel can demystify these complexities, giving whistleblowers clear guidance as they navigate this challenging terrain.

Protection from retaliation is another critical area where employment lawyers in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, and San Bernardino can provide assistance. An employment lawyer can help protect whistleblowers from such retaliation and initiate appropriate action if retaliation does occur.

In situations where whistleblowers suspect discrimination or mistreatment in their workplace, an employment law attorney becomes a vital ally. They can address these issues head-on and ensure the whistleblower’s rights are upheld. If a whistleblower suspects they have been wrongfully terminated in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, and San Bernardino, an employment lawyer can help them seek justice and compensation.

Finally, understanding the potential outcomes is another area where an experienced employment lawyer can provide much-needed support. They can help whistleblowers understand the possible rewards, repercussions, and changes to their employment status that might arise from their actions. Additionally, they can prepare whistleblowers for any legal proceedings that may ensue.

It’s clear that seeking legal counsel is not just beneficial but often essential for whistleblowers. Knowledgeable employment lawyers provide guidance, protection, and support throughout the whistleblowing process, helping individuals navigate the potential risks and rewards of their actions.

Providing Effective & Personalized Representation

In California, there are many state and federal laws that protect employees who engage in protected “whistleblowing” activities from retaliation by their employers.

California Whistleblower Retaliation Laws

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to threaten, retaliate or discriminate against, or terminate a job applicant or employee because that person refuses to consent to a waiver of any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of Fair Employment and Housing Act, or the Labor Code, including the right to pursue a civil action or complaint with any agency.

The California Fair Pay Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who disclose their own wages, discuss the wages of their co-workers or inquire about another employee’s wages.

Another important whistleblower statute in California is California Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 which prohibits health care facilities from discriminating or retaliating against any employee (or patient or member of its medical staff) for presenting a grievance or complaint to an accrediting agency or other governmental entity, or for cooperating in an investigation or proceedings related to the quality of care, services or conditions at the facility.

Numerous California statutes also protect from retaliation employees who engage in protected whistleblowing activities, and there are far too many to discuss in one webpage.  However, most practitioners would agree that chief among the whistleblower protections in California is the California Whistleblower Statute. California Labor Code Section 1102.5 forbids retaliation if the employee disclosed, or the employer believes he/she disclosed or may disclose, information to certain government agencies, to those with authority over the employee or authority to investigate, discover, or correct the employer’s violation or noncompliance, or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties. Labor Code Section 1102.5 forbids employers from retaliating against their employees based on the employee disclosing or reporting information which discloses a federal or state statute violation, or a noncompliance with or a violation of a federal, state, or local regulation or rule, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties. So, if an employee complains about what the employee reasonably believes is illegal, to the police for example, or other government agencies, or even someone with authority over the employee, then it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against the employee for that reason.

Federal Whistleblower Retaliation Laws

The federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits an employer whose securities must be registered under federal securities laws (i.e., publicly traded stocks or bonds) from discharging, discriminating against or retaliating against an employee for reporting employer conduct the employee “reasonably believes” violates federal securities, mail fraud, wire fraud or bank fraud laws or for assisting an SEC investigation.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act specifically protects employees from retaliation by employers for reporting or refusing to participate in alleged violations of Title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The federal False Claims Act authorizes private parties (“relators,” who may or may not be employees) to bring civil qui tam suits seeking reimbursement, on behalf of the government, against entities who allegedly have defrauded the government.

The law provides many other protections which cannot all be included here.

Each situation is unique, and you should contact an attorney to discuss your specific situation. The Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. provides complimentary case evaluations. Call us at (818) 509-9975 to speak with a whistleblower lawyer in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Berardino, or Ventura

Whistleblower Retaliation Q&A

My brother and I work at the same company. He filed a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner and we are both being retaliated against by my employer; do I have any rights?

Your employer cannot retaliate against you or your brother for his protected activities. The retaliation protection extends to an employee who is a family member or the person who engaged in or is perceived to have engaged in a protected activity—which in this case, is your brother’s wage complaint to the Labor Commissioner.

My employer demoted me or reduced my hours and pay because I reported his violation of the American with Disabilities Act. Do I have any rights?

Yes, your employer cannot retaliate against you by taking what is called an “adverse employment action” against you because you engaged in protected activity, such as filing a reporting ADA non-compliance. A demotion, pay-cut, reduction in hours are all “materially adverse employment actions,” which are prohibited.

Featured Whistleblower Retaliation Case

People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s, Inc., (2023) 14 Cal. 5th 719

In Garcia-Brower the Labor Commissioner sued a nightclub for violations of the Labor Code.  The lawsuit alleged retaliation and was based on an incident in which the nightclub’s owner fired a bartender and threatened to report him to immigration authorities, in response to the bartender’s complaint about unpaid wages. The Superior Court granted in part Labor Commissioner’s application for default judgment. The Labor Commissioner appealed, and the Fourth District Court of Appeal, held that a report of wrongdoing already known by the employer was not protected disclosure under Section 1102.5. The California Supreme Court disagreed.  The Court held that the Labor Code whistleblower retaliation statute does not require that a reported violation be unknown to the recipient.  The Court also held that the bartender’s complaint to the owner of the nightclub that she had not been paid wages owed was a disclosure protected by the Labor Code whistleblower retaliation statute.

Areas Served

The litigation and trial attorneys of the Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. provide services throughout Southern California including but not limited to AdelantoAgoura HillsAlhambraAliso ViejoAltadenaAnaheimApple ValleyArcadiaArletaAtwater VillageAzuzaBakersfieldBaldwin ParkBanningBeaumontBellBell GardensBellflowerBeverly HillsBlytheBoyle HeightsBreaBrentwoodBuena ParkBurbankCalabasasCalimesaCamarilloCanoga ParkCanyon LakeCarsonCathedral CityCerritosChatsworthChino HillsChinoClaremontCoachellaColtonComptonCosta MesaCoronaCovinaCulver CityCypressDana PointDesert Hot SpringsDiamond BarDowneyDuarteEagle RockEast HollywoodEast Los AngelesEastvaleEcho ParkEl MonteEl SegundoEl SerenoEncinoFontanaFountain ValleyFullertonGardenaGarden GroveGlassell ParkGlendaleGlendoraGranada HillsHacienda HeightsHawthorneHemetHesperiaHighland ParkHighlandHollywoodHollywood HillsHuntington BeachHuntington ParkIndian WellsIndioInglewoodIrvineJurupa ValleyLa Canada FlintridgeLa-Crescenta MontroseLa HabraLa MiradaLa PalmaLa PuenteLa QuintaLa VerneLaguna BeachLaguna HillsLaguna NiguelLaguna WoodsLakewoodLake BalboaLake ElsinoreLake ForestLancasterLawndaleLincoln HeightsLoma LindaLong BeachLos AlamitosLos AngelesLos FelizLynwoodManhattan BeachMar VistaMaywoodMenifeeMission HillsMission ViejoMonroviaMontclairMontebelloMonterey ParkMoorparkMoreno ValleyMurrietaNewbury ParkNewhallNewport BeachNorcoNorth HillsNorth HollywoodNorthridgeNorwalkOntarioOrangeOxnardPacific PalisadesPacoimaPalos VerdesPalmdalePalm DesertPalm SpringsPanorama CityParamountPasadenaPerrisPico RiveraPlacentiaPomonaPorter RanchRancho CucamongaRancho MirageRancho Santa MargaritaRedondo BeachResedaRialtoRiversideRosemeadRowland HeightsSan BernardinoSan ClementeSan DimasSan GabrielSan FernandoSan JacintoSan Juan CapistranoSan PedroSanta AnaSanta ClaritaSanta MonicaSawtelleSeal BeachShadow HillsSherman OaksSilver LakeSimi ValleySouth El MonteSouth GateSouth PasadenaSouth WhittierStantonStudio CitySun ValleySunlandSylmarTarzanaTemeculaTemple CityThousand OaksToluca LakeTorranceTujungaTustinTwentynine PalmsUplandValenciaValley GlenValley VillageVan NuysVenturaVictorvilleWalnutWest CovinaWest HillsWest HollywoodWest Puente ValleyWestchesterWestminsterWestwoodWhittierWildomarWinnetkaWoodland HillsYorba Linda

Call us at (818) 509-9975 to speak with a knowledgeable whistleblower lawyer in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, and San Bernardino and learn about your available legal options.