The difference between right and wrong. It is something that we've been taught since we were toddlers. As we have grown to adulthood, we've aspired to be our best and to live right. Part of that is making hard choices of staying silent or speaking up when we see wrongdoing. This is a common and terrifying prospect in the workplace.
Sometimes we pick our battles. An example is when we see a coworker take a pen or printing personal documents with company paper. Is this worth reporting? Probably not. However, the dilemma becomes very real when you see your employer engaging in illegal conduct.
Under the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), employers are prohibited from retaliating against "whistleblower" employees who report illegal activity to the proper authorities. This includes when the employer is believed to be breaking the law, or when the employer is ordering an employee to commit an unlawful act. Retaliation includes harassment or adverse employment actions, like demotion, disciplinary action, or a reduction in pay.
California expands on the OSHA and provides some of the strongest whistleblower protections in the country. Significantly, the California Labor Code states that an employer or person acting on their behalf shall not:
· "make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information" to a government or law enforcement agency, a superior, or an employee with investigating authority;
· "make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from" "providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee's job duties";
· Retaliate against an employee who engages in the aforementioned whistleblowing activity; or
· "retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation.
You Need a Lawyer
If you have reason to believe that your employer is engaging in unlawful conduct or has ordered you to engage in unlawful activity, there are whistleblower laws that are designed to protect you. Unfortunately, these same employers that are operating unlawfully probably aren't inclined to observe your legal rights. At Moss Bollinger, we understand both state and federal whistleblower laws and can help you determine whether you have a claim. We take pride in providing a tough, no-nonsense voice against employers that act badly. We work on a contingency basis, so we don't get paid unless you do. Call Moss Bollinger today at (800) 249-1175 for a free consultation or contact us online.