Our Employment Lawyer in San Jose Explains Whistleblowing
If you believe your employer committed an illegal act, an employment lawyer in San Jose can assist you in determining whether you are protected under federal and California whistleblower laws.
Understanding Federal and California Whistleblower Laws
California and federal law defines a whistleblower as an employee who reasonably believes his or her employer committed an illegal act and reports that act to the proper government agency, i.e. law enforcement agency. Federal whistleblower laws require states to provide the minimum protection to employees. California law provides greater protection than the federal minimum requirements and also protects employees who suspect its employer is committing an illegal act. Federal whistleblower laws protects employees from reporting about their employer’s violation of federal laws, rules, and regulations, and California expands protection for employees who report violations of their employer’s state laws, rules, and regulations.
However, whistleblower laws probably do not protect you for reporting things about your employee that you do not like if those acts do not violate a federal or state law, rule, and/or regulation. To be protected you must reasonably believe or suspect your employers acts are illegal even if it is determined your employer did not actually break the law. In addition, California and federal whistleblower laws usually only protect employees for reporting illegal acts that were committed to others outside the company. For example, sexual harassment violations are usually illegal acts committed to individuals within the company. Employees who report such violations are protected under California and Federal Civil Rights laws and are probably not subject to whistleblower protection.
If you believe your employer committed an illegal act it is a good idea to contact an employment attorney in San Jose before reporting the act. An attorney can assist you in determining whether you will likely be protected under whistleblower laws. An attorney can also help you contact the correct agency before reporting such violations.
Protection against Retaliation
California and federal whistleblower laws, protect employees from employer retaliation. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Suspension; and/or
If you believe your employer is retaliating against you for being a whistleblower you may be entitled to file a complaint with a government agency and/or file a lawsuit against your employer. For example, the United States Department of Labor is the federal agency that enforces the federal whistleblower laws and protect employees from reporting their employer’s federal law violations, not participating in illegal actions and/ or participating in proceedings to enforce these laws. California has a similar agency and provides similar protection. An employment attorney in San Jose can assist you in determining whether you have a case against your employer and can assist you in filing your complaint with the appropriate agency.
If your attorney determines you are a whistleblower and you have been retaliated against by your employer, you may be entitled to emotional distress and punitive damages. Federal law also protects employees by enacting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This Act allows a court to impose a fine and potential imprisonment to an employer that retaliates against an employee for providing truthful information to a federal agency about its employer’s violating federal law.
Contact an Employment Lawyer in San Jose
Whistleblower laws are complex and can be confusing. Therefore, it is important to understand your rights. If you are concerned about something your employer is doing, or you have reported your employer to a government agency for conduct you believe may be illegal, and/or you are currently facing retaliation from your employer for whistleblowing, contact the Costanzo Law Firm at (408) 993-8493. We have an employment lawyer in San Jose ready to help you.