We Represent Los Angeles Whistleblowers Facing Workplace Retaliation
At YMS, we have extensive experience litigating whistleblower and workplace retaliation claims, and we may be able to help you too. If you have been retaliated against at work, contact our Los Angeles whistleblower lawyers. During your first 30-minute consultation, we can discuss your unique situation and help you understand your potential legal options.
What Is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an employee who exposes unlawful conduct or illegal activity by his or her employer in the workplace. An employee may disclose information to certain parties, including:
- Government or law enforcement agencies
- Person(s) with authority over the employee
- Another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance
- Any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or an inquiry
An employee may “blow the whistle” on misconduct or illegal activities, including:
- Local, state and federal law violations
- Regulation violations
- Health and safety violations
- Sexual harassment in the workplace
It takes a lot of courage to report an employer’s unlawful conduct. If you are considering becoming a whistleblower, we encourage you to reach out to a Los Angeles whistleblower attorney from our firm about your situation. We can answer any legal questions you may have and help you understand how you can protect your rights.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for whistleblowers to face workplace retaliation. However, whistleblowers are legally protected from unlawful retaliation. Our Los Angeles whistleblower attorneys discuss these protections in the next section.
Are There Whistleblower Protections in California?
Yes, there are whistleblower protections in California. An employer may not retaliate against, or negatively impact an employee’s position with the company based on his or her whistleblowing activity.
California Labor Code Section 1102.5 makes it illegal for California employers to obstruct and/or retaliate against an employee:
- From disclosing information to certain parties,
- For reporting, disclosing, or testifying information to certain parties
- Who refuses to take part in unlawful conduct
- Who is a family member of an individual who has engaged, or has been perceived to engage in protected activities
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law designed to combat fraud against the government. Enacted during the Civil War, the FCA allows private individuals, known as whistleblowers, to file lawsuits on behalf of the government when they have evidence of fraudulent claims for government funds. The FCA imposes liability on individuals or entities that knowingly submit false claims for payment to the government. Whistleblowers who come forward with credible information about such fraudulent activities can file qui tam lawsuits under the FCA. If the government recovers funds as a result of the whistleblower’s lawsuit, the whistleblower is eligible to receive a percentage of the recovered amount as a reward. The FCA is a powerful tool to encourage individuals with knowledge of fraud against the government to expose wrongdoing and protect taxpayer dollars.
What Is the Process for Reporting Fraud Under the False Claims Act?
Whistleblowers pursuing cases under the False Claims Act are required to file their Complaints under seal in a United States District Court. They must provide a copy of the complaint to both the Attorney General of the United States and the local United States Attorney, along with a written statement containing all material evidence supporting their allegations. The filed Complaint remains under seal, ensuring that neither the defendants nor the public are initially aware of its existence. This seal lasts for an initial period of 60 days, allowing the government to investigate the whistleblower’s claims. This seal can often be extended for months or even years.
Prior to the public disclosure of the whistleblower’s Complaint, the government communicates its decision on whether to intervene formally in the case to both the whistleblower and the Court. If the government chooses to intervene, it takes on the primary role in prosecuting the case against the defendant. The whistleblower and their attorney continue to play crucial roles in supporting the government’s prosecution efforts. However, if the government decides not to intervene, the whistleblower retains the option to independently pursue the case on behalf of the government.
What is Whistleblower Retaliation in Los Angeles?
Whistleblowers act in the public interest by uncovering threats to public health and safety, financial fraud, fraud on the government, environmental pollution, and other wrongdoing. But whistleblowers often suffer retaliation from their employer when they are suddenly terminated from their job, suspended, demoted, or subjected to a hostile work environment.
Whistleblower retaliation can exact a serious toll on whistleblowers who come forward to expose fraud and other unlawful conduct. A whistleblower can suffer a loss of income, harm to their reputation, alienation, isolation from professional colleagues, emotional distress, and potential blacklisting.
Many workers don’t report illegal activity by their employers because they fear losing their job. But there are many state and federal laws, such as the federal False Claims Act and California Labor Code Section 1102.5, that protect workers by making it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against a worker who exposes unlawful employment or business practices.
When Is Retaliation Against A Whistleblower Unlawful?
Whether a particular act of retaliation against a whistleblower is unlawful depends upon the federal or state whistleblower law that protects the type of disclosure involved. Generally, retaliation is unlawful whenever the employer’s action would dissuade a reasonable employee from engaging in protected whistleblowing.
Some examples of unlawful retaliation against a whistleblower include:
- Constructive discharge, i.e., forcing the employee to quit or retire
- Reassigning a whistleblower to a position with significantly different responsibilities
- Harassment; or
- Subjecting a whistleblower to a hostile work environment
Depending upon the circumstances, the following acts may also be unlawful retaliation:
- Removing the whistleblower’s supervisory responsibilities
- Placing the whistleblower on administrative leave.
- Subjecting the whistleblower to retaliatory investigation
- Placing the whistleblower on a performance improvement plan; or
- Suing the whistleblower
Under some whistleblower protection laws, merely outing a whistleblower or threatening to take an adverse employment action against them is unlawful, and some whistleblower laws prohibit anticipatory retaliation.
What Evidence Do I Need To Support a Whistleblower Case?
Supporting a whistleblower claim requires a variety of evidence to substantiate the allegations and establish the credibility of the whistleblower. For example:
- Documentary Evidence: Any tangible documents, such as emails, memos, contracts, or financial records, that provide a clear record of the alleged misconduct.
- Witness Testimonies: Statements from individuals who have firsthand knowledge of the misconduct can help corroborate the whistleblower’s claims and provide additional perspectives on the situation.
- Audio or Video Recordings: If applicable, recordings of conversations, meetings, or events related to the misconduct can be compelling evidence. However, the legality of recording conversations varies.
- Photographic Evidence: In some cases, visual documentation, such as photographs or videos, can support a whistleblower’s allegations. This is particularly relevant in situations where physical conditions or events are part of the claim.
- Corroborating Data or Analysis: Statistical data, analysis, or expert opinions, which might include financial analysis, cybersecurity reports, or other relevant data.
- Personal Records or Notes: The whistleblower’s own records, such as detailed notes, diaries, or a personal journal documenting the events or patterns of misconduct.
- Company Policies and Procedures: Any evidence demonstrating that the alleged misconduct violates established company policies or industry regulations (e.g., employee handbooks, codes of conduct, or industry standards).
- Evidence of Retaliation: If the whistleblower experiences retaliation following the disclosure, documenting instances of such retaliation, such as changed work conditions or harassment, is crucial.
Compensation For Whistleblower Retaliation
Federal and state anti-retaliation laws provide various remedies to make a whistleblower who has suffered retaliation whole. These remedies include:
- Back pay and lost wages. Some whistleblower protection laws, such as the Dodd-Frank Act and False Claims Act, award whistleblowers double their back pay
- Loss of future earnings
- Benefits lost as a result of the retaliation
- Compensatory or special damages for emotional distress and reputational harm; and
- Attorney’s fees and litigation costs
Furthermore, some whistleblower retaliation laws authorize an award of punitive damages to deter employers from retaliating against whistleblowers.
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Consult with a Los Angeles Whistleblower Attorney at Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani
At Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani, we represent whistleblowers in Los Angeles who have suffered unlawful retaliation. By assessing the protected whistleblowing, your employer’s knowledge of the whistleblowing, and the link between the whistleblowing and the retaliation, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a valid whistleblower retaliation claim.
If you believe that you were terminated from your job, demoted, or subjected to unfair and hostile treatment because you reported illegal activity by your employer, call or email us today. We may be able to help you recover compensation for your financial losses and much more.