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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > What Can a Whistleblower Safely Report to the Government?

What Can a Whistleblower Safely Report to the Government?


You may already know that whistleblower laws prohibit your employer from retaliating against you for taking certain actions, or for reporting certain illegal activity. These laws allow employees who see illegal behavior, to report and try to stop that behavior, without fear of repercussions at work.

But just what kind of things do the whistleblower laws protect—in other words, what kind of behavior can you report, and be legally protected from being punished for reporting?

No Retaliation

There are actually a lot of laws that together protect the reporting of certain illegal activity, and each may come into play, depending on the activity that you are reporting. But as a general rule, the laws protect an employee who reports the following kinds of illegal behavior, or misbehavior.

By “protect,” it means that your employer cannot punish you in any way for reporting these things. Your employer can’t prohibit you from any privileges you may have enjoyed, stop you from working, prevent you from getting a promotion, or in any way take it out on you because you reported any of these things.

Losses to the Government – Any behavior by your employer that causes any kind of loss to the government, can be reported by any employee without fear of punishment or retribution from the employer. This may include activity that cheats the government out of taxes. Or behavior that relates to misappropriation of government property or government funds.

One good thing about reporting this kind of behavior is that not only are you safe from being punished by your employer, but the government will give you a percentage of what it recovers as a result of your reporting of the illegal activity.

Stocks and Stock Fraud – Anything that your employer may be doing that relates to stocks, or stock fraud, or misleading investors, also can be reported safely. So, if you knew of insider trading, and reported that, you would be safe or if you knew about a “dumping” operation that your employer was engaged in, that would be protected.

Regulatory Violations – You are also protected when you report activity that may be violating specific laws or regulations of the United States or its agencies. For example, if you knew that your employer was engaging in illegal dumping of toxic materials in violation of EPA laws, or if your employer was selling food without proper inspections, all which violate the rules of various regulatory agencies, that would be protected, as it is seen as protecting the public in general from harm.

If you worked for a trucking company or an airline, and knew that they were skirting important safety regulations, that would also be protected if you opted to report that information.

Wage Laws – Many people aren’t aware that they also are protected, if they report unfair payment practices at work—for example, if your boss wasn’t paying people overtime, or giving them their tips, or if the employer wasn’t providing family medical leave act leave for ill or sick employees.

Are you being punished or retaliated against for reporting illegal activity at work? Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.




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