Understanding whistleblower protections

On behalf of Sullivan Law Group APC posted in employee rights on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

Many in San Diego may naturally feel a strong sense of loyalty towards their employers. That loyalty may end, however, if their employers place them in a position of doing something (or remaining silent regarding something) they believe to be wrong. Yet some may still be afraid to speak up un such instances for fear of being fired or subject to some other form of retaliation. While such fears are understandable, people should know that they are protected is they choose to speak up and/or act against their employers wrong or unlawful actions. 

Indeed, Section 1102.5(c) of the California Labor Code states that an employer (or one acting on an employer’s behalf) cannot retaliate against an employee for doing something wrong or inappropriate. What qualifies as “wrong” can often be subjective. An employee, for example, might believe something is wrong based upon his or her own moral standards, yet his or her employer (or the employers representatives) could disagree. This might seem to leave the door open for an employer to retaliate against one of its workers for inaction by stating that it did not view the requested action to be inappropriate. 

Fortunately, the law sets the standard when it comes to what sort of employer actions qualify as being “wrong.” Per the California Department of Industrial Relations, these are: 

  • Violations of federal and/or state laws
  • Violations or noncompliance with federal, state or local regulations
  • Allowing or expecting work to be done in an unsafe environment

Yet even with these whistleblower protections in place, some may still be hesitant to report their concerns. Authorities understand this, which is why they will often allow violations to be reported anonymously.