Whistleblowing-Are-you-Protected.jpg (4297×2317)Whistleblowing: Are you Protected?

A whistleblower is defined as someone who reports workplace misconduct. This means that they are telling someone about bad things that are happening in the company that they work for. This could be pollution or even the way that they treat their employees, and anything in between.

Whistleblowers don’t even have to be employees at the time that they report any wrongdoings. They could be a past employee too!

They can report things that are happening now, happened in the past, or will happen in the future. Even if something is in the planning stages, if you report it, you could be considered a whistleblower.

That being said, there are three types of whistleblowers. These include:

Internal whistleblowing. If you end up reporting any wrongdoings to someone in the company that you work (or worked for), this is considered internal whistleblowing. You don’t have to go to the manager for it to be considered internal! If you work for a chain that is treating employees wrong, you can go to corporate and complain. This is still considered internal because it is a part of the company!

Bigger companies may have their own internal whistleblowing policies in place. They may have something in their handbook that outlines how you should proceed with any complaints. You must follow these guidelines so that you are protected as a whistleblower.

External whistleblowing. This means that you are going to someone outside of the company. Most commonly, when someone is involved in external whistleblowing, they go to the local police or even the media to report a problem.

Cyber whistleblowing. Because we now live in an online world, we have cyber whistleblowing. When you are talking about this type of whistleblowing, you are talking about security breaches, hacking into computer systems, encryption deficiencies, and other unsecure practices that a company may be engaging in.

What happens if you are caught whistleblowing? Are you protected?

There are laws that are in place to protect you as a whistleblower. The most common one is the  Whistleblower Protection Act, though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act may also protect you. These are to protect you from any retaliation that you may face, even if you were wrong about the company.

However, you must report the wrongdoing in good faith. You must have serious reason to believe that the company that you work (or worked) for is doing something wrong. You must take the proper steps to report it to the authorities in order to be protected.

If you don’t, you won’t be protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which means that you could be demoted or even fired for reporting any wrongdoing. You also can’t participate in the wrongdoing, or you could be held accountable too. If there is an investigation, you need to stay out of it if you want the full protection of the law.

Whistleblowing simply means that you are speaking out against the company that you work for. You could go to someone that is higher up in the company (internal), or you may end up going to the police (external). If you are concerned about cyber safety, it is considered cyber whistleblowing.

If you are struggling at work because something is just not right, you need to speak up. As long as you hire a lawyer and do it the right way, you are protected from any retaliation. You can’t be demoted or lose your job because you spoke out against the company that you work for.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need to speak out. We will be glad to help you do this the right way and help you protect your job.

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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