Whistleblowers are important sources of intelligence for government agencies seeking to punish corruption and fraud by some employers. Employees who report this essential information sometimes put themselves at risk of losing their jobs for handling such valuable information. If you are thinking about becoming a whistleblower, you need to first consult a California whistleblower attorney and ask about your rights under such circumstances. There are many laws that protect employees who report their employers’ unethical practices.
The first step to determine whether or not you have a retaliation lawsuit is finding out if you engaged in a protected activity. A protected activity is when the whistleblower refuses to engage in anything that violates the law. Most whistleblower laws protect not only complaints to governmental agencies but also complaints to a supervisor made during internal or external investigations. You may also find protection when you refuse to work in unsafe conditions. However, not every circumstance may qualify as a protected activity. You must ask your California whistleblower lawyer if these circumstances qualify. As long as the unethical practices you complained about violate the law, you may have engaged in a protected activity.
You only have some time within which you can file your complaint. This time is calculated from the day the retaliation occurred and it’s called the statute of limitations. However, deadlines can vary depending on the nature of your case. The less time you have the quicker you must gather the facts and evidentiary support for your complaint. Most complaints can be filed with OSHA yet they may not handle all the complaints and you may be required to take your retaliation to court.
Take notes of any illegal activities and retaliating against you. You can’t record conversations as California is a “two-party consent,” which means that all parties in the conversation must give their permission otherwise it becomes illegal to record it. But you can keep detailed notes of actions, meetings, and conversations about your employer’s unethical behavior. Just be careful not to save these notes on your computer at work as you may not have access to them after your employer finds out about your actions. You must ask your attorney before copying important documents as you may encounter some issues regarding confidentiality as well as other legal issues that may arise when gathering these records.
Retaliation disputes can be intense and you don’t want to do something other than whistleblowing that will cause your employer to fire you. Be courteous and respectful when voicing your complaint. Some employers may want to claim insubordination to protect themselves against whistleblowing complaints. Continue working and completing your tasks as usual. If you suspect your employer wants to fire you, don’t give them any other excuse to do so.
If you are retaliated against for blowing the whistle, don’t quit. We understand this is a personal decision and it may not feel right working for this particular company any longer. Yet resigning may complicate things further. Most government agencies appreciate someone that still works for the employer and provides them with important information about their ongoing illegal practices. If you still want to quit, ask your attorney about how you can properly communicate your resignation.