Santa Monica Whistleblower Attorneys
A whistleblower is an employee who works in government or private enterprise, and who discloses to the public or a regulatory agency the mismanagement, corruption, safety violations or other unlawful activities at work that would otherwise go unpunished. A whistleblower serves the public interest, often at some considerable risk to his or her safety and well-being.
Frequently, employers retaliate against whistleblowers through terminations, intimidation, demotions or reductions in pay. That is why several laws have been enacted to protect employees who blow the whistle on illegal behavior at work.
“At-will” employment as an excuse to terminate a whistleblower.
The at-will employment doctrine means that without an employment contract, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, at any time. According to the California Labor Code, California is an “at-will” state. However, the legislature and the courts have created exceptions in the doctrine for whistleblowers who are at-will employees.
An employer may not fire an employee for reporting or not participating in certain illegal activity. Some laws that prohibit certain types of unethical or illegal corporate behavior explicitly protect employee whistleblowers, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act for federal employees.
Enacted in 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistleblowers that work within the federal government from retaliation. To file a successful claim for protection, an employee must:
- Have made a protected disclosure that he or she reasonably believed showed misconduct or violation of a law or regulation
- Demonstrate retaliation occurred
- Show that the retaliation was directly connected to the protected disclosure
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also oversees 20 of the laws that also protect whistleblowers from retaliation and discrimination. These include the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 402 of the Food Safety Modernization Act and Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
If you are fired for refusing to engage in or reporting illegal behavior, you may also have a wrongful termination claim against your employer. One of our employment law attorneys can help you determine the best course of action to protect your rights.
Contacting a whistleblower attorney.
Filing a whistleblowing claim can be very complicated and complex. If you have observed illegal activities at work and are thinking about blowing the whistle and need advice before you do, or you’ve already done so and feel you’re being retaliated against, you need experienced, competent counsel to protect your rights. Win With Us. Contact the employment law attorneys at Schwimer Weinstein as soon as possible.