Whistleblower Retaliation: What You Need to Know
By Gregory Thyberg on December 08, 2021
If a worker witnesses or suspects that their employer is violating laws or public regulations and/or policies, they have the right to report and/or oppose those violations. Individuals who report violations of public policies are known as whistleblowers.
People often hesitate to report employer violations because they fear they will face repercussions from their employer. Whistleblower retaliation is illegal. Employees in the Sacramento, CA, area who believe they have been victims of whistleblower retaliation can work with whistleblower attorneys at Thyberg Law to consider their legal options, as well as their potential right to financial compensation for related damages.
Whistleblower Protection Laws
California whistleblower protection laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for reporting suspected violations of public policies, laws, or regulations. These laws not only protect whistleblowers from being fired, but also from facing negative consequences that are retaliatory in nature. Whistleblower protection laws apply to all employees, including full-time employees, part-time employees, and those working for an employer on a temporary basis (or through a temporary employment agency).
Examples of Whistleblower Retaliation
The most extreme, and one of the most obvious, forms of whistleblower retaliation is termination. Although laws prohibit employers from firing an employee for reporting violations, it still happens. Unfortunately, whistleblower retaliation can occur in many other forms as well. Sacramento workers should recognize these types of whistleblower retaliation:
- Demotion, or failing to promote an employee
- Workplace discipline
- Reassignment to a less desirable position
- Negative performance review without merit
- Denial of access to professional development opportunities
- Verbal intimidation, harassment, or threats
- Changes in hours and/or reduction of pay
- Reporting or threatening to report the employee to immigration authorities
Options for Victims of Whistleblower Retaliation
If a Sacramento employee suspects that they have been a victim of workplace retaliation, they have a couple of options to consider. First, they should consider filing a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The timeline for filing a complaint with OSHA varies under various protection policies, but workers should file within 30 to 180 days of the date of retaliation (or adverse action). OSHA will investigate the complaint and recommend a remedy.
The second option for victims of whistleblower retaliation is to work with an attorney to file a claim through civil court. Employees can sue their employer for the emotional and financial damages they have suffered as a result of retaliation.
Damages in a Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit
The damages awarded in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit vary based on the details of the case and the extent of losses suffered by the employee. Potential areas of compensation include:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Loss of career opportunities (or loss of wage earning potential)
- Emotional pain and/or mental suffering
- Punitive damages, which serve as a punishment for the employer’s egregious actions
Contact Thyberg Law
No whistleblower should face retaliation for reporting suspected violations of public policy. If you have faced negative consequences after making reports against an employer, whistleblower lawyers at Thyberg Law can guide you through your legal options. To discuss the details of your situation, contact our law firm online, or call (916) 204-9173.