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Whistleblowers are Protected

By Thomas Lee

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It is the public policy of the State of California to encourage employees to notify an appropriate government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, and to provide information to and testify before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry, when they have reason to believe their employer is violating a state or federal statute, or violating or not complying with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.


Who is protected?


Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 1102.5, employees are the protected class of individuals. “Employee” means any person employed by an employer, private or public, including, but not limited to, individuals employed by the state or any subdivision thereof, any county, city, city and county, including any charter city or county, and any school district, community college district, municipal or public corporation, political subdivision, or the University of California. [California Labor Code Section 1106]


What is a whistleblower?


A “whistleblower” is an employee who discloses information to a government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or to another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or who provides information to or testifies before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses:


1. A violation of a state or federal statute,


2. A violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation, or


3. With reference to employee safety or health, unsafe working conditions or work practices in the employee’s employment or place of employment.


A whistleblower can also be an employee who refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.


What protections are afforded to whistleblowers?


1. An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower.


2. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower.


3. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation.


4. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights as a whistleblower in any former employment.


Under California Labor Code Section 1102.5, if an employer retaliates against a whistleblower, the employer may be required to reinstate the employee’s employment and work benefits, pay lost wages, and take other steps necessary to comply with the law.


How to report improper acts


If you have information regarding possible violations of state or federal statutes, rules, or regulations, or violations of fiduciary responsibility by a corporation or limited liability company to its shareholders, investors, or employees, call the California State Attorney General’s Whistleblower Hotline at 1-800-952-5225. The Attorney General will refer your call to the appropriate government authority for review and possible investigation.



Please note that the information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed nor relied upon as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. For a free consultation with Attorney Thomas M. Lee, please contact us.

Los Angeles Office Location

Address: 3435 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2400, Los Angeles, CA 90010

Phone: 213-251-5533