California Whistleblower Protection Act

Need help understanding the California Whistleblower Protection Act? Get in touch with the Waltman Employment Law. We are ready to help you.

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Overview of the California Whistleblower Protection Act

The California Whistleblower Protection Act, commonly referred to as the “Act,” grants the California State Auditor the authority to receive and examine complaints regarding improper governmental activities. Furthermore, it provides protection to state employees who come forward to report such activities, ensuring they are shielded from any form of retaliation by their employers.

For state employees in California, it is vital to understand their rights under the Act and how it protects them from adverse consequences when reporting suspected improper governmental activities. This article explores the Act’s key aspects, including its purpose, applicability, and implications for both employers and employees in California. 

Furthermore, it will shed light on the specific protections offered to employees, the prohibitions imposed on employers, and the legal recourse available to employees who believe their rights have been violated.

If you have encountered whistleblower retaliation due to raising concerns about improper governmental activities, we warmly invite you to schedule a consultation with the Waltman Employment Law team. Our professionals will offer a comprehensive assessment of your situation.

What Is the California Whistleblower Protection Act?

The Whistleblower Protection Act safeguards employees and job applicants from retaliation by state officials or employees when they report suspected violations of laws, regulations, or public policies. 

Retaliation can manifest in various ways, such as intimidation, denial of promotion or appointment, threats of adverse action, unfavorable performance evaluations, involuntary transfers, or disciplinary actions. Even if the reported violations are later proven to be inaccurate, employees are still safeguarded against retaliation as long as they have a reasonable belief in the accuracy of their reports.

If the State Personnel Board concludes that you have been subjected to retaliation as a whistleblower, it has the authority to impose the following remedies:

  • Reinstatement of employment,

  • Compensation for lost wages,

  • Restoration of forfeited service credit,

  • Awarding of compensatory damages, and

  • Removal of any adverse employment record resulting from the retaliation.

These measures aim to restore justice and provide appropriate redress for the harm caused.

Employee Protections Offered by the Whistleblower Act

In California, several whistleblower statutes exist that encompass a range of protections for employees. Below, you will find a compilation of the most significant whistleblower statutes that apply to employees rendering services in California.

California Labor Code 1102.5 LC 

The most commonly applicable statute for retaliation/whistleblower cases is Labor Code Section 1102.5. As per this provision, employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who disclose information, conduct, behavior, or other activities that the employee reasonably believes may contravene local, state, or federal law, rules, or regulations. 

Similarly, employers cannot punish employees for refusing to participate in activities that would violate local, state, or federal rules or laws. In retaliation cases under Labor Code Section 1102.5, employees can rely on either circumstantial evidence, such as demonstrating close temporal proximity between the whistleblower complaint and the adverse employment action, or direct evidence, such as an email from a supervisor expressing dissatisfaction with the employee’s reporting of illegal activities.

Health & Safety Code 1278.5

Health & Safety Code 1278.5 imposes criminal and civil fines on healthcare facility administrators and staff who retaliate against patients, nurses, medical staff, and other healthcare workers. These fines are applicable when these individuals report suspicions of unsafe patient care and conditions to government authorities.

If you’re a healthcare worker reporting patient safety concerns, you may only be required to exhaust some internal grievance processes before pursuing legal action under Health and Safety Code 1278.5. This is because internal hospital appeal procedures could impede or delay your ability to effectively address retaliation claims.

Government Code 8547 GC et seq

Government Code Section 8547.1, et seq., enables state employees to report instances of waste, fraud, law violations, or threats to health or safety without fear of retaliation. In line with this, the state Legislature enacted the California Whistleblower Protection Act. 

The Act recognizes that state employees should be free to expose waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violations of law, and threats to public health without repercussions. The Legislature also acknowledges that public servants are most effective when they can conduct the people’s business with utmost openness and honesty. 

Any allegations of whistleblower statute violations by state personnel will be thoroughly investigated by the state personnel board, as per Government Code Section 19683.

Labor Code 98.6 LC

California Labor Code 98.6 LC is a vital statute that provides essential protection for whistleblowers who report labor code violations to the California Labor Commissioner. This law not only safeguards job applicants who file complaints with the Labor Commissioner against their former employers but also protects the family members of those who report labor violations. Furthermore, Labor Code 1197.5 prohibits employers from retaliating against individuals who report or take legal action to address wage discrimination based on gender.

Determining Applicability to Your Situation

To substantiate allegations of Whistleblower Protection Act violations, the employee filing the claim must demonstrate, with clear and convincing evidence, three essential elements. These include:

  • Protected Activity: Employees must show that they engaged in protected activity. 
  • Adverse Action: They must demonstrate that they suffered an adverse employment action, which may include demotion, negative performance evaluation, decrease in pay or benefits, or termination. 
  • Causal Connection: finally, they must establish a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. 

If you are facing discrimination and harassment from your employer for whistleblowing, it is of utmost importance to promptly seek legal counsel. At Waltman Employment Law Firm, we possess vast experience in handling whistleblower cases and are fully equipped to offer you the essential guidance and support required to safeguard your rights.

Legal Recourse for Employees

The legal remedies accessible to employees vary depending on the relevant statute. If you are an employee who suspects a violation of your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act, you may be entitled to a range of remedies, such as:

  • Labor Code 1102.5: To take legal action for employer violation of whistleblower protections, you can follow these steps: notify the California Labor and Workplace Development Agency online, send certified mail to your employer, wait for the agency to investigate or notify you within 65 days, and proceed with your lawsuit if necessary.
  • Labor Code 98.6 and 6310: If your employer takes retaliatory actions against you for reporting violations of labor or occupational health/safety laws, you can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner. However, it is not mandatory to take this step; you can proceed directly to filing a lawsuit if you prefer.
  • State Employees: If you have encountered whistleblower retaliation according to the California Whistleblower Protection Act, which applies to state government employees, you must complain to the California State Personnel Board before taking legal action against the government agency that employed you.

Safeguarding Your Rights with Waltman Employment Law

Whistleblower protection in California is reinforced by many statutes, ensuring that those who expose wrongdoing can do so without fear of reprisal. Suppose your employer violated your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act. In that case, it is imperative to engage a focused law firm to navigate the complexities of these legal matters.

At Waltman Employment Law, transparency is our guiding principle, and we keep our clients informed at every stage of the process. We aim to empower you with knowledge and understanding, enabling you to make informed decisions about your case. Our team is unwavering in protecting your rights and working towards a favorable resolution.

If you have experienced retaliation for reporting illegal or unethical activities in the workplace, do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation. Our extensive experience in employment law cases makes us well-prepared to guide you through this challenging time and ensure a robust defense of your rights. Do not hesitate to secure your right to justice – contact Waltman Employment Law today.