Whistleblowing

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Woodland Hills Lawyer Representing WhistleBlowers

 

“Workers should never have to choose
between doing the right thing and
losing their job”

Have you been demoted, disciplined, denied promotion, gotten bad performance reviews, forced to quit or fired and believe it was for Whistleblowing? Did you lose your job under suspicious circumstances? Was it undeserved? Are you a good employee? If the answer is “yes,” then you should know that state and federal laws protect you against retaliation.

At the Webb Law Firm, we understand how important your job is to you. If you were unjustly fired, you are probably worried, confused and wondering if you have any recourse? Someone has just stolen your dignity, self-esteem, confidence, joy, happiness, and quality of life. At our Woodland Hills, California law office, we will help you through this process.

What is Whistleblowing?

There are Federal, State and local statutes protecting Whistleblowers who report illegal acts. They serve the purpose of encouraging open communication so that employers can take steps to remedy violations — and to prevent innocent employees being placed in a position where they have to choose between doing the right thing and losing their jobs. Yet, every day, it happens.

A Whistleblower is an employee who discloses information to a government agency about violations of law, regulations or unsafe working conditions and work practices. Under some circumstances it is a person reporting about government wrongdoing and in others it is someone reporting to the government about private employers cheating the government.

It takes a special person to be a whistleblower, to set aside their own self-interest to do what’s right. Under all whistleblower laws when you report the illegal or improper government acts you are not only doing the right thing you are helping save tax payer money; and as a role model, setting an example for everyone.

California False Claims Act California Government Code § 12650-12656
It is illegal for any person to make a false claim for payment of money to the State; such as overcharging, claiming money for work not done, or supplying inferior products at a high price.

California Whistleblower Protection Act (CWPA) California Government Code
§ 8547-8547.12

Under this act it is illegal for the government to engage in “improper governmental activity”. The State legislature declared that state employees should be free to report waste, fraud, corruption, abuse of authority, violation of law, or threat to public health without fear of retribution. You should never have to choose between doing the right thing and losing your job. For example:

Garcia, a 20-year employee at Rockwell reported to NASA that Rockwell was overcharging on one of their projects. Garcia was a manager in charge of time records and was instructed to overcharge. He questioned his boss but was told to “follow orders”. Garcia also reported another mischarge on the Shuttle program by another supervisor. His boss denied everything and instead he accused Garcia of engaging in overcharging and terminated Garcia, knowing his superiors ordered him to. Garcia was forced to file legal
action or suffer the financial and other consequences of being fired. He feared being blacklisted. He did file a lawsuit and the jury found that he was wrongfully fired for blowing the whistle.

California Labor Code Safety Whistleblowers

Under the Labor Code §1102.5 private or public employees who report workplace safety violations and unsafe practices or refuse to participate in violations are protected from retaliation. Under Labor code §98.6 an employee can be reinstated to the job with reimbursement for lost pay and benefits. A hotline with the Attorney General office is available for reporting. Legal action can be taken for any retaliation. The purpose of these laws is not only to aid the reporting of safety violations… it is also  to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. For example:

Richard was a quality control inspector of Aircraft Manufacturer Company. The company makes wing components and aircraft parts for commercial and military use. He reported that the company’s inspection practices violated federal safety regulations. They were shipping parts to Boeing and Northrop even though they failed to pass his safety inspection. In order to stop the practice he documented the violations. Richard was fired claiming a lay off but the company kept other inspectors with less seniority. Richard was forced to file a lawsuit to clear him from being blacklisted as an inspector who violated safety regulations putting the lives of airline passengers and others at risk. Until he cleared his name he would be unable to get employment of any worth since he had to tell them why he was fired and the aircraft company would give him a bad reference.

Cal/OSHA Whistleblower Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal agency, and Cal/OSHA the California equivalent is tasked with implementing and enforcing safety and health legislation in the workplace. The agencies many rules cover hazardous chemicals in the workplace, construction site safety and other important safety matters. Whistleblower protection is provided to employees who report violations of OSHA safety regulations.

The protected activities typically include:

  • Initiating a proceeding under, or for the enforcement of, any statutes, or causing such a proceeding to be initiated;
  • Testifying in any such proceeding;
  • Assisting or participating in any such proceeding or in any other action to carry out the purposes of these statutes; or
  • Complaining about a violation such as:
    • Construction site safety hazards
    • Failure to comply with workplace safety rules
    • Unsafe workplace or equipment
    • Hazardous chemical exposure
    • Asbestos exposure
    • Insufficient safety training

If you report OSHA violations to your employer, the local Cal/OSHA agency or local authorities, you are protected from retaliatory discharge, or discrimination. “Discrimination” includes:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Blacklisting
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime or promotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denial of benefits
  • Failure to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation and harassment
  • Reassignment affecting promotion
  • Reducing pay or hours

Dr. Daly was hired by Exxon to provide medical services at an oil treatment plant. Daly reported Cal/OSHA safety violations because a subcontractor was not providing for the safety of its employees — creating a threat of serious injury. He was told “not to concern himself with such matters” and to “quit complaining.” The subcontractor then told Exxon to fire Daly. They did and refused to renew his employment contract. The termination and refusal to rehire under a new contract was an act of retaliation for his Whistleblowing. Daly should not have been required to choose between his job and reporting the threat of harm to workers at the treatment plant. The court agreed.

California has numerous other whistleblower protection laws:

  • Health & Safety Code § 1278.5: prohibits retaliation against patients, doctors, nurses and medical staff who blow the whistle to the government or accrediting agencies on medical patient care issues at a health facility.
  • Labor Code § 98.6: prohibits retaliation against employees who file a complaint for labor code violations with the Labor Commissioner or the Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing.
  • Labor Code 6399.7: prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a complaint or testifying on occupational safety and health matters.
  • Gov’t. Code 12653: prohibits retaliation against employees who report to the government any fraudulent billings that were submitted for payment to the government.
  • Gov’t Code § 12940(h): prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose discriminatory or harassing treatment based on religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, or age.

It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee because they have exercised a legal right or duty under the Whistleblower laws; yet, every day, people are penalized due to employer retaliation against those who report them.

The most common form of retaliation is being fired. Other acts of retaliation include disciplinary actions, bad performance reviews, being denied raises or promotions and being transferred or demoted. It can even be harassment to force the employee to quit.

There are many other cases such as these.

At the Webb Law Firm we can help you determine what course of legal action is best for you. Depending on your situation, your employer may owe you for lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, attorney’s fees and more depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

We Work to Uncover the Real Facts

There are thousands of reasons causing a wrongful termination, because of reporting employer waste, fraud and corruption. The employer’s true motive is a determining factor in deciding if it was illegal or wrongful in the eyes of the law. As your California wrongful termination lawyers, we will look beyond what your employer claimed was the reason for termination and investigate the true motives.

Our allegiance is to employees who have been wrongfully treated by their employers whether corporations, government or private enterprises. Our job is to get the truth out about what happened to you. To reveal to everyone necessary the real reasons exactly why you have been harmed.

If you or someone you know has suffered some type of injustice at work, we want to help you and while doing so it will help deter future misconduct. The law provides that employees “shall be provided all relief necessary to make the employee whole.” We can help you determine what course of legal action is best for you. At the Webb Law Firm we are Employment Law Experts with a winning track record of holding employers accountable for workplace violations and protecting working
families. So let’s talk!

Contact Us for a Free Confidential Consultation

Whenever possible, we handle cases on a contingency fee basis, our assurance that we believe in you and your case. We are confident that we can successfully recover for your harm and if we don’t win you don’t have to pay us one penny for our attorney fees. We are committed against injustice by those in powerful positions and to holding them accountable for injury or harm to innocent victims.

“How can what is wrong be made right?
Tell us about your case – We can help!”