July 6, 2021
A whistleblower refers to a person who reports unethical, illegal, or dangerous activity by an employer. Whistleblowing occurs in a wide range of industries.
Whistleblowers have focused attention on the unethical behavior of banks and mortgage services (which led to the nationwide foreclosure crisis), exposed massive Medicare and insurance fraud in healthcare facilities, and revealed the unauthorized marketing of pharmaceutical companies, just to name a few examples.
Here are five important state and federal whistleblower protections:
1) California Labor Code 1102.5 prohibits retaliation against an employee who has reasonable grounds to believe they have information about a violation of state or federal law or a violation of local, state, or federal regulation and:
- Has disclosed or is believed to have disclosed that information to certain government agencies.
- Has disclosed or is believed to have disclosed that information to those who have authority over the employee or power to investigate, discover, or correct the employer’s violation or non-compliance.
2) The Federal Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits anyone with authority over personnel from retaliating against employees and applicants of the federal government or their contractors who:
- Have disclosed information that they reasonably believe is evidence of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
- Have released information that they reasonably believe is evidence of serious mismanagement, waste, abuse of authority, or specific and substantial danger to public health or safety.
3) The California Whistleblower Protection Act provides a civil cause of action against anyone who retaliates against an employee of the state for making a protected reveal of information.
4) The California Labor Code contains provisions that protect employees from retaliation for submitting employee health and safety complaints to the employer or a government agency, testifying in safety or health-related proceedings, or refusing to work in an environment unsafe or unhealthy that creates an apparent danger to the employee or co-workers.
5) The California Health and Safety Code says that healthcare facilities may not discriminate against employees who file a complaint or grievance with an accrediting agency or other government entity or cooperate in an investigation or proceeding related to the quality of care services and conditions in the facility.