Retaliation & Whistle Blowing
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Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is unlawful for an employer to demote, suspend, terminate or harass any employee because that employee has engaged in certain protected activities. Protected activities vary but include protesting, complaining about, resisting or otherwise “opposing” discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, sex, disability, national origin, age, or religion. Retaliation by the employer is prohibited whether the employee is opposing harassment or discrimination directed against themselves or another employee. An employee is protected from retaliation whether it turns out that the complaint regarding harassment or discrimination was valid or not as long as there was a reasonable basis.
It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for refusing to violate any law, for reporting the employer for violating any law, or for protesting conduct by the employer that is the subject of any state of federal statute, regulation, or constitutional provision.
In California it is illegal to fire, demote, refuse to promote, harass, discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is in a protected class, or whose conduct is within a protected category, which includes persons who “blow the whistle” on improper or illegal activities. A “whistleblower” is a person who complains, opposes, makes public, or threatens to make public, illegal actions by an employer. For example, it is illegal for an employer to take adverse action who reports discrimination, harassment or labor code violations. It is likewise illegal to fire, harass, reprimand or demote an employee who testifies in a proceeding against the employer, or who informs the government that a company has been falsifying documents in order to receive payment from the government. There are numerous other examples of “whistle blowing” under California law. If you believe you have been terminated or are being retaliated against because you have blown the whistle, our experienced lawyers at Callanan, Rogers & Dzida, LLP, have the experience to help protect your rights.