Chances are you knew the risks when you decided to report wrongdoing on the job, or maybe you just wanted to make a positive change in your workplace. Whether you discovered some violation of employment law, safety protocol, environmental regulations or other unethical behavior, you followed your conscience and notified the proper authorities. Perhaps you cooperated with investigators who came to your workplace, and this did not sit well with your boss.
Even if you tried to keep your identity as a whistleblower secret, your employer may have suspected you were the one who reported him or her. Your decision to blow the whistle may have cost your employer in fines, damaged the reputation of the business or even resulted in legal action against your employer. You know you did the right thing, but what are your options if you lose your job because of it?
Laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation
Depending on the circumstances that prompted you to contact authorities, you may have the protection of California and federal laws related to whistleblowers. The government has established dozens of laws that prevent retaliation against employees and others who report illegal activities, including financial malfeasance, sexual harassment, wage theft, or violations of any of the many environmental protection laws at the state and federal levels. Retaliation can take many forms, such as demotion, mistreatment, threats or denial of advancement in your job.
If your employer fired you after you reported workplace misconduct or violations of the law, you may be the victim of such retaliation. Time is of the essence in such cases. California has a limited window for reporting acts of retaliation related to whistleblowing. You will need to know which agency to contact for assistance, and you will likely need to provide evidence that your termination resulted from the whistleblowing actions and not from other causes in the workplace.
Dealing with retaliatory termination
Losing your job for any reason can be a catastrophic blow to your financial well-being. When the termination is a wrongful act in retaliation for your acting in good faith and exercising your protected right to disclose any unlawful behavior, you may have options for reclaiming your lost wages and other compensation. It is not an easy process, and you can expect your employer to fight the allegations. Therefore, you would be wise to approach your claim with skilled legal guidance.