"Whistle Blowing" is when an employee tells on an employer who is breaking the law. Employees who blow the whistle on their employers are protected by law. If they are fired or otherwise retaliated against for whistle blowing, they can sue.
What Is Whistle Blowing?
To actually "Whistle Blow", the employee must tell of the illegal act to someone outside the company. It must be a government or law enforcement agency.
If the employee just complains to someone inside the company, that is not whistle blowing, and the employee is not protected by the whisteblower laws. However, the employee may be protected under other laws. For example, it is illegal to fire someone for complaining of sexual harassment or discrimination.
Does the Employer Have to Have Broken the Law?
It is not necessary that the employer actually broke the law. The employee could be whistle blowing on something that isn't illegal in the first place. The employee is still protected from retaliation or termination.
However, the employee must believe that he or she is reporting a violation of the law, and the employee's belief must be reasonable.
How is the Employee Protected?
If the employee has reported the allegedly illegal activity to a government or law enforcement agency, he or she is protected. The employer cannot retaliate against the employee. The employer cannot fire the employee for the whistle blowing. The employer cannot mistreat the employee for whistle blowing.
This does not mean that after whiste blowing, the employee cannot be fired for any reason. The employer can continue to treat the employee like any other employee. But the employer cannot treat the employee differently because of the whistle blowing.
Obviously, if the employee whisteblows on Monday and is fired on Tuesday, it suggests that the employee was retaliated against for making the report.
- For Legal Help see Finding an Attorney and David H. Greenberg, California Employment Law Attorney.
- See related topics Wrongful Termination and Damages.
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