Can You Be Fired for Whistleblowing?

If I Am a Whistleblower, Can I Be Terminated?

No. Under California law, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a whistleblower. A whistleblower is an employee who has reported, or attempted to report, reasonably believed illegal conduct of the employer. As a whistleblower, you are protected from retaliation under California law.

Types of Whistleblower Retaliation

It is not just being fired that may be considered retaliation. It could be other employer actions like a demotion, a suspension, or pay reductions. Perhaps you were disciplined or denied a promotion for which you would otherwise be considered. Maybe you have received unfavorable job transfers, adverse treatment, or shift changes. These are some examples of whistleblower retaliations that can occur. There are many other kinds of adverse employer actions.

California has enacted many laws that prohibit workplace retaliation and enforce whistleblower protection. If believe that your termination is a result of retaliation for whistleblowing, you may have a case for wrongful termination.

Common Examples of Whistleblowing

Common examples of whistleblowing are when an employee complains to a government agency, like FEHA, EEOC, or OSHA. An employee can also file a complaint with their employer’s management or even to HR about:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Unsafe health or safety practices
  • Wage and hour issues like pay, overtime, rest breaks
  • Violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), like denial of leave
  • Or patient care

As a result of their actions, the employee reasonably believes retaliation against them has occurred.

Damages Available for Whistleblowing Claims

When a whistleblower wins, there are many kinds of potential damages that can be recovered including:

  • Damages for emotional and physical injuries
  • Damages for lost wages and benefits
  • Special damages uniquely caused by the wrongful termination
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney’s fees

Do I Have a Retaliation Case?

In certain retaliation cases, you may be required to file a complaint with a government agency prior to taking your case to the court. There are many tactical and strategic issues that should be carefully considered with an attorney if you feel that you are being retaliated against or have been fired due to whistleblowing. In my 39 years of experience as a trial lawyer, I have successfully helped many employees who were wrongfully terminated. Contact me for a free consultation to discuss your case.


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