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Understanding how California's whistleblower act works

Whistleblower laws serve the purpose of protecting employees who report an employer's violation of the law or public's trust from being retaliated against for doing so. While most states have whistleblower laws in place that protect public employees from being fired for reporting this type of crime, very few states also protect private employees. California is one of few states that protect both types of employees though.

In 2014, California's Whistleblower Protection Act was strengthened when three new laws were added to it. The pre-existing law already protected employees who reported violations of laws to police, however, the new ones allow for these indiscretions to be reported to any public body investigating the case.

One of the latest updates to the law now also allows those working in the capacity of independent contractors for an organization to be protected from retaliation if they too report a violation. Quite different from other states, in California, any company's employee can report a violation of law, even if the illegal behavior was not observed while completing tasks associated with their routine work duties.

Any individual who believes they have had their rights violated under the California's whistleblower act is eligible file a claim to recover damages they suffered as a result of the retaliation. Some damages associated with whistleblowing-related claims may include lost wages, costs association with an employee's damaged reputation, and reinstatement.

As for those who violate Labor §1102.5 to 1105, California's whistleblower laws, they may not only be held financially liable to cover costs associated with an employee's dismissal, but criminally liable as well. A violation of the aforementioned laws is currently prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Each count can carry as much as a year in jail and $1,000 fine for an individual or $5,000 fine for a corporation.

If you suspect you've been retaliated against for voicing your concerns over a fellow employee or employer's violations of state of federal laws, you may be eligible to file a claim to recover damages you have sustained. In reviewing your case with a Sherman Oaks employment law attorney, he or she can provide advice as to the merits of your claim.

Source: The Mirroknian Law Firm PC, "Employment Law," accessed May 19, 2017

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