Guidelines-for-Becoming-a-Successful-Whistleblower.jpg (2149×1159)Whistleblowers can play a huge role in protecting a society as they’re the ones who report specific wrongdoings of an organization or company. However, it takes a significant amount of courage to be a whistleblower. That’s because people who take on this job can suffer from backlash and retaliation if they act impulsively, not knowing how to proceed. Therefore, it’s important to know what’s involved in whistleblowing and what you should and should not do. Here are some basic guidelines on how to become a whistleblower, along with how a qualified whistleblower attorney can help you.

What is a Whistleblower?

Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the term “whistleblower.” Simply put, a whistleblower is someone who reports the misconduct or wrongdoing of an employer or organization. A common recent example of a whistleblower is Julian Assange, who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. Since then, WikiLeaks has been responsible for more than 1.2 million leaks.

The whistleblower can be currently employed in the organization or be a former employee. The misconduct can be a transgression that occurred in the past, be current or even be in the planning stages. Whistleblowing falls into two main categories: internal whistleblowing and external whistleblowing.

Try to Resolve the Problem Internally

Before you rush out and put together a case, try to resolve the issue within the organization or company by addressing the misbehavior to the top officials. In most cases, legitimate companies use some type of internal procedure for resolving these issues, such as a whistleblower hotline. Just be sure your concerns are written and documented, rather than verbal.   

Collect Specific Evidence

First, you need to have an authentic case and not one that’s only based on simple hunches, speculations or rumors. This means you’ll have to gather specific evidence that proves what you’re reporting is factual.

When collecting evidence, be selective in what you choose as too much information can be detrimental for your case. Keep in mind how you don’t have the right to divulge harmful, irrelevant data that won’t help but can actually weaken your case. In other words, don’t use data, such as salary information, client lists and trade secrets that can work against you and even put you at risk for being sued.

Get Sound Legal Counsel

Don’t take any action before securing a competent and experienced whistleblowing lawyer who can protect you from retaliation. Make sure any attorney you choose is known for his or her integrity and has been successful in winning whistleblowing cases.

An effective whistleblowing lawyer shouldn’t have a conflict of interest. For example, sometimes lawyers already represent clients in similar cases and try to steal information from new clients. You’ll need an experienced attorney who has a proven record for making sound judgments.

The Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, also known as the WPA, is a law protecting U.S. government employees from retaliatory action from freely revealing information regarding illegal or dishonest activities that occur at a government organization. This type of disclosed information can include the waste of funds, mismanagement, wrongdoings or involve a potential threat to safety or public health.

The False Claims Act

The False Claims Act can protect you as a whistleblower from retaliation as it’s illegal for an employee to be suspended, demoted, harassed or threatened for filing a qui tam lawsuit. Sensitive whistleblowing attorneys understand how a whistleblower may be hesitant to file a qui tam lawsuit, so they explain to clients how a suit is kept confidential and remains sealed. Furthermore, besides the False Claims Acts, there are more specific state laws that offer even more protection for whistleblowers.

Other Considerations and Warnings

If you need sound legal advice, call the legal professionals at Aiman-Smith & Marcy. In addition to whistleblowing cases, our Oakland, California-based law firm specializes in consumer fraud, employment law, class actions in California and other areas. Please contact us to set up a free consultation.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986