Employees who report improper conduct can be protected by whistleblower laws. These laws are important: without them, a whistleblower is left at the mercy of an employer who could face fines – and even criminal charges – because of their report. The law recognizes these risks.
Whistleblower laws have been enacted to encourage employees to report misconduct, and ensure that they have legal protection when they do. But in order to access these protections, employees must have access to their own, independent legal advice about their unique situations. The company’s lawyers and HR employees are in place to protect the company – not you. Learn more about how an experienced San Francisco whistleblower attorney can help protect your legal rights throughout the whistleblowing process.
There is a specific legal definition for the employees who can be considered whistleblowers. There are also specific legal definitions for whistleblower activities that are protected. If you do not meet these legal definitions, then your employee may be allowed to retaliate against you without violating any laws. This is why it is so important to seek advice from your own whistleblower attorney before making any reports about your employer’s wrongdoing. The law defines a whistleblower as an employee who reports:
Reports of these types of violations must be made to the appropriate authorities in order to be protected by whistleblower laws. The “appropriate authorities” could be a government or law enforcement agency. It could also be a public entity that is conducting an investigation, inquiry or hearing into the issue. A whistleblower can even make a protected report to another employee who has the authority to investigate or inspect the violation within the workplace. (This is a less popular option because whistleblowers usually feel safest when making reports to someone outside the employer’s control.) It can be difficult to know whether you and your report will be protected under the law. This is why it is so important to get your own independent legal advice before taking any action.
So what, exactly, are these protections? The general idea is that a whistleblower should be free from retaliation for reporting misconduct. “Retaliation” covers a wide range of behaviors. The outright firing of an employee is the most blatant example, but it is not the only way to prove retaliation. The employee could be forced to take a pay cut, or less overtime, or fewer opportunities for bonuses. The employee might be given different shift hours or job responsibilities. Even a poor performance evaluation could be retaliation if it is not truly based upon objective indicators of the employee’s actual work performance. Many different actions can constitute retaliation if it can be proven that they were done as punishment for the employee’s protected whistleblower activities.
The experienced employment lawyers at Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP have years of experience handling whistleblower cases. Our San Francisco whistleblower attorneys work to protect employees’ legal rights to be free from retaliation when acting as a protected whistleblower. Call (415) 484-0980 or visit our website to schedule your consultation today.
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