Protection Provided to Whistleblowers
Whistleblowing has dominated the media in the recent past, demonstrating the gravity of such actions along with the intensity applied to protect whistleblowers.
Whistleblower complaints that are appropriately vetted often lead to investigations that can have adverse effects on the accused. These laws were passed as a means for individuals to draw attention to an activity they believe to be illegal or dishonest while under the protection of confidentiality and non-retaliation. An employee who refuses to take part in an activity that violates federal or state laws/statutes may also be considered a whistleblower.
California Whistleblower Laws Protect Both Private and Public Employees
Employers are prohibited from enforcing any internal policy that conflicts with the state or federal Whistleblower Acts that would:
- Prevent or prohibit an individual from reporting illegal activities
- Retaliate against individuals who are whistleblowers
- Retaliate against individuals who refuse to take part in actions that may be in violation or are non-compliant of a state/federal rule/regulation
- Retaliate against an individual who was a whistleblower in their former employment
Common Types of Fraud
If an employer has violated the California Labor Code Section 1102.5 and retaliates against a whistleblower, they may be forced to reinstate the employee, their benefits, pay any lost wages, and take mandatory measures to comply with the law.
7 of the most common types of fraud whistleblowers expose include:
- · Defense contractor fraud
- · Environmental harm or fraud
- · Government contract overbilling
- · IRS/State Tax fraud
- · Medicare/Medicaid Fraud
- · Overbilling practices by Doctors/Hospitals
- · Overbilling schemes by Pharmaceuticals
The confidentiality of the whistleblower is maintained whenever possible. In some instances, and to facilitate a thorough investigation, the whistleblower’s identity may have to be disclosed. The whistleblower’s identity may have to be disclosed to remain compliant and to provide the accused of the legal rights of defense.
The Whistleblower Policy encourages individuals to report all cases of corruption, suspected fraud, or other improper/illegal activity, or any health/safety concerns that are not being appropriately addressed and have the potential to cause harm. The policy sets forth the process by which the evaluation and investigation are to be conducted.
What Do These Protections Mean?
In addition to the Federal Whistleblower Act, most states have whistleblower statutes that provide additional protections to at-will employees under public policy laws. The non-retaliation aspects include, but are not limited to, protection from retaliation in the form of:
- an adverse employment action, i.e., termination, demotion, fewer work hours
- compensation decreases, poor work assignments
- threats of physical harm
If you believe that you are a victim of retaliation resulting from taking part or cooperating in a whistleblower investigation, under California’s Whistleblower Laws, you may also be entitled to file a claim for any damages sustained by any retaliation. Additionally, if you have information regarding any illegal activities and wish to file a whistleblower complaint, contact one of our Attorneys to discuss your case.
Along with the repayment of lost wages and reinstatement, you may also be entitled to additional compensation for a damaged reputation. If you have been terminated or are experiencing retaliation, it is best to contact an attorney that specializes in discrimination and retaliation laws to represent you.
Our firm specializes in all aspects of employment law, including whistleblower rights and protection, harassment, age discrimination and more. Our attorneys hold a distinguished track record in types of cases and provide you a strong presence in your case. Employment laws are constantly changing — contact Aiman-Smith & Marcy today for a free consultation.