“Blowing the Whistle” on Your Employer—Protection for “Whistleblowers”

California law encourages employees to report unlawful activities and discourages employees from engaging in unlawful activities in the workplace. The protection afforded to employees extends beyond traditional “whistleblowing” where an employee reports unlawful activities to government or law enforcement authorities. California case law provides protection for employees that report unlawful activities directly to their employers (“internal whistleblowing”) provided that the law violated was intended for the protection of the public. In addition, California’s Whistleblower Statute protects employees that refuse to participate in unlawful activities at work.

Employers that fire or otherwise retaliate against employees for reporting or refusing to participate in unlawful activities are subject to tort claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and often statutory claims for violation of California’s Whistleblower Statute.

It is also noteworthy that an employee asserting a “whistleblower” claim ordinarily does not have to prove that there was an actual violation of law. Instead, it suffices that the employee had a “reasonably based suspicion” of illegal activity.

Employees that believe that they have been terminated or suffered other adverse employment actions because they reported or refused to participate in unlawful activity should consult with an employment attorney. Typically, employment attorneys, like the Law Offices of David S. Levy, provide free initial consultations to “whistleblowers.”

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