Palo Alto Whistleblowing & Retaliation Lawyer
In California, it is illegal to fire an employee in retaliation for whistleblowing. This protection for employees goes against the general rule that most employees are “at-will” in the state, meaning that employers can typically terminate a person’s employment at any time and for any reason. Common law in the state prevents the firing of an individual for a reason that violates the fundamental principles of public policy. Courts in California look to federal and state law to determine whether an employer violated public policy when they fired an employee. Statutes also protect employees from retaliation when they serve as whistleblowers.
While many employees might have heard of whistleblower protections, they may still feel somewhat nervous about reporting violations on the part of their employers. Those fears are sometimes unfortunately warranted when employers take retaliatory actions against the whistleblowing employees. It is important to understand your rights and to stand up for those rights against an employee who took wrongful actions against you. At the Costanzo Law Firm, our Palo Alto whistleblowing & retaliation lawyers are ready to fight to protect employees in California. Call us at 408-993-8493 to learn more about how we can help you.
Whistleblower Protection Act
The federal whistleblower protection act has whistleblower protections, and California has its own version of the law that strengthens the provisions of the federal law by including additional employees. In California, not only are employees protected but so are independent contractors and consultants.
What Activity is Protected?
Employers cannot retaliate against a worker in cases where the employee:
- Files discrimination or harassment claims
- Testifies in court
- Files a claim against the company for illegal conduct
- Complains about illegal conduct at their place of employment
Additionally, a prospective employer cannot refuse to hire an employee based on a past whistleblower complaint. Employers in California are also required to have whistleblower protections, laws, and information posted at a place accessible to their employees.
What is Retaliation?
Retaliation often involves the employer firing the employee, but that is not the only type of retaliation against which employees are protected. Employers may engage in retaliatory acts that are less overt, such as a demotion, denying promotions, and limiting access to training and other programs that could help the employee advance in their employment. It is important to speak to a Palo Alto employment law attorney to discuss your case.
What if a Whistleblower is Wrong?
As an employee, you might witness something at work that you suspect is a violation, but you might not be certain. Not every case is clear, and you are not required to be a detective or OSHA investigator in order to raise the alarm about perceived illegal or wrongful conduct. If you have reasonable cause to believe that something illegal is occurring, you will benefit from whistleblower protections. After all, it is in the best interest of the public that employees are not fearful of retaliation in the case that their employer is not in violation. Many cases of misconduct would go unreported if employees were required to ensure that they were right in their concerns.
If you have questions regarding whistleblower protections in California and how those protections might apply in your case, contact a Palo Alto employment law attorney today.
If you witnessed suspicious behavior in your place of work, you could contact a government agency to report the violation to help ensure that the issue undergoes investigation. Reporting the matter to your employer could result in immediate retaliation, and although employees are protected in such situations, reporting to an agency is more likely to result in an investigation into the possible violation.
If your suspicions were correct and your employer committed a violation and then retaliated against you, then your next action might be to file a whistleblower lawsuit. If you were retaliated against for reporting a suspected violation that turned out to be incorrect, then you might have to file a different type of claim, such as one for wrongful termination.
To learn more about your legal options, contact a Palo Alto employment law attorney today.
Time Limits in Whistleblowing Retaliation Claims
It is important not to wait to file a whistleblower claim. The statute of limitations will prevent you from filing after three years have passed. There are other restrictions for different types of workplace violations and claims, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to file a claim will not expire.
What Can I Recover in a Whistleblower or Retaliation Claim?
If you file a successful whistleblower or retaliation claim, you will be able to collect damages from your employer. Those damages might include back pay, compensation for the loss of benefits, damages for your emotional distress, and in some cases, punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to penalize individuals for egregious actions and violations and often amount to large sums. Speak to an attorney for an evaluation of your case.
Contact the Costanzo Law Office Today to Discuss Your Palo Alto Whistleblowing or Retaliation Claim
At the Costanzo Law Firm, our attorneys fight for the rights of employees in Palo Alto. Call us today at 408-993-8493 to learn how we can help you.