What is Whistleblowing?
In order to make sure employers aren’t doing anything illegal, California encourages employees to report violations of state or federal laws to supervisors or government agencies. California wants to protect employees who “blow the whistle” on their boss’ bad behavior, and “whistleblower” statutes make it illegal for employers to fire, demote, or punish employees for whistleblowing. Employees blow the whistle on their employers when they report a violation of a state or federal law. Whistleblowing can include reports of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, safety violations, and more! The harassment or safety violations don’t have to affect you directly: a man is protected if he reports that his female co-worker is being sexually harassed, and a white person is protected if they report that their black co-worker is being racially discriminated against.
I Don’t Know the Law- Can I Still Blow the Whistle?
California’s lawmakers understood that the average employee hasn’t memorized complicated statutes. The law trusts employees’ instincts when something doesn’t feel right in the workplace. Even if you can’t rattle off a long statute, you’re still protected if you have an honest belief that a law is being violated at your job. You don’t have to use any “magic words” to get whistleblower protection- so don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right!
What Kinds of Reports are Protected?
All kinds of reports are protected- including reports made to your boss, your human resources department, the local police, and other state and federal agencies. Your protection isn’t based on the fact that you made your report to the “right” person. Your protection is based on the fact that you took a stand for what’s right in the workplace- whether you’re reporting sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or a safety issue. If you get demoted, punished, or fired for whistleblowing, you are protected by California’s whistleblower laws.
Can My Employer Make a Policy Against Whistleblowing?
Some employers may have policies against whistleblowing, or require you to report issues to your boss or human resources. This is a violation of California law: your employer is not allowed to fire you for “blowing the whistle” in a way they don’t like. If your employer punishes, demotes, or fires you for making a report to a state or federal agency, you can take advantage of California’s whistleblower statutes.
Did You Speak Up and Get Punished?
If you think your employer has retaliated against you as punishment for whistleblowing, you need someone on your side to protect your rights. We encourage you to speak to an attorney immediately! At California Civil Rights Law Group, our seasoned attorneys have extensive experience in representing whistleblowers. Call us to help stop the retaliation! With our law firm having offices in both Oakland (Alameda County) and in San Anselmo (Marin County), it’s convenient to speak to a “whistleblower attorney,” so to speak, to discuss the potential of your case. We’re convenient to San Francisco as well; if you think you may have a potential case, please don’t hesitate to reach out for an attorney consultation, whether in Oakland, San Anselmo, or via phone / the Web from elsewhere in the Bay Area.