A common concern for most employees is whether he or she will be able to keep their job if they blow the whistle on their employer. Whistleblowers are individuals who report employer violations of existing state or federal laws to either a supervisor or to law enforcement.
Whistleblowers play a key and often times sacrificial role in ensuring that greedy employers follow the law. Whistleblowers have taken down toxic companies such as Enron and the NSA for actions including but not limited to safety violations, fraud, corruption, and other dangerous activities.
However, being a whistleblower comes with certain pitfalls. These pitfalls include reputational damage, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Fortunately, there are state and Federal laws in place to protect whistleblowers from this sort of unlawful behavior. There are also certain actions that whistleblowers can actively take to increase the chance of keeping their job.
How Am I Protected As A Whistleblower?
There are essentially two different areas where whistleblowers are protected: State and Federal laws. Miracle Mile Law Group exclusively practices law in California state and Federal courts.
Under California State laws, there is government code 1102.5, 98.6, 6310, and 6311. While navigating these statutes are complex (that’s why you hire attorneys like us), they basically state that an employee cannot be fired for reporting OSHA violations, complaining about unlawful behavior (such as discrimination, retaliation, or harassment), or any other violation of the law.
Under Federal law, there is the False Claims Act, Qui Tam laws, the Clean Air Act, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Water Pollution Act, among others. Under Federal law, the type of wrongdoing you are reporting determines whether you have protection. Contact our attorneys to find out if you are protected under Federal law.
What Do I Do If My Boss Retaliated/Fired Me For Whistleblowing?
Although this article deals with keeping your job while whistleblowing, often times employers make the unlawful decision to wrongfully terminate employees for exposing illegal behavior. However, wrongful termination is not the only form of retaliation that is prohibited. Your employer cannot take most forms of adverse employment actions against you for whistleblowing. This includes:
- Cut in pay
- Poor performance reviews
- Negative employment evaluations
- Altering work schedule that has no purpose but retaliation
- Work transfers
- And much more
If you feel as though you are being retaliated against for exposing illegal or unsafe behavior, it may be time to talk to an attorney about your rights.
How to Be a Whistleblower and Keep Your Job
Being a whistleblower can cause great emotional distress. The fear of losing your job, getting harassed, or otherwise discriminated against is scary. However, there are certain actions employees can take to minimize the risk of getting fired. Also, these same precautions will help prove your case in the event that you have to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. If you are asking yourself how I can keep my job if I am a whistleblower, follow these steps:
- Make sure to keep a detailed description of every time you made a complaint. Keep track of who was in the room, what you said, who you said it to, and the dates that the complaints were made.
- If possible, communicate your complaints to your supervisors in writing, either by email or text.
- Gather your employment documentation, including your: performance evaluations, write-ups, attendance records, company policies, and handbooks.
- Be discreet about gathering evidence
- Don’t give your employer any other reason to fire you
- Remember, there are statute of limitations to file whistleblower claims, so contact an attorney immediately.
Should I Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?
Sometimes, it may be smart to file a charge with the EEOC. After filing a charge with the EEOC, the government agency will investigate and either file an administrative charge and/or issue you a right to sue letter after the investigation is complete.
The statute of limitations for submitting a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is 300 days. The EEOC is the federal agency that oversees discrimination complaints in the workplace. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), on other hand, has a different statute of limitations to file a claim.
Contact an attorney today to see if your case falls within the statute of limitations.
Call an Attorney to Learn About Your Whistleblower Rights
If you believe you have been fired illegally, contact a lawyer today. Having a lawyer by your side when trying to prove that you have been retaliated against for being a whistleblower is vital. Give us a call at (888) 244-0706 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation. Remember, we do not take a single dollar unless WE WIN!