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How state whistleblowing laws protect California workers

California Labor Law Section 1102.5 defines a whistleblower as an employee who witnesses and reports suspected cases of illicit activity by their employer. There are a number of different types of violations that might be deemed illegal that a whistleblower might wish to relay to either a law enforcement or government agency.

These include any instances where a violation of federal, state, or local laws or regulations are suspected. An employee may also elect to report cases of unsafe or unhealthy working environments. A worker who chooses not to take on certain work on the grounds that it violates the law or some type of regulation is protected under state whistleblowing laws as well.

Under this law, employers are not allowed to draft, implement, or otherwise institute any policies that adversely impact an employee from becoming a whistleblower. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against any employee that chooses not to participate in a potentially illegal or unethical job-related task.

Employees cannot be reprimanded for failing to participate in the illicit activity nor can they be fired for the actual act of whistleblowing itself. In instances in which an employee is retaliated against, the company can be required to reinstate the individual’s job and benefits. They may be held liable for paying the employee’s lost wages as well.

If you think that you may have witnessed a violation of regulations, fiduciary responsibility or law in your workplace, then you may wish to report the incident to the Whistleblower Hotline at the State Attorney General’s Office. Alternatively, you may wish to discuss the matter with a Los Angeles County employee rights attorney in advance to learn what some of the implications associated with reporting might be.

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations, “Whistleblowers Are Protected,” accessed June 02, 2017

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