How Do I Prove My Job Retaliated Against Me for Whistleblowing?
When a company violates public policy, whistleblowers will bravely report misconduct to the media or proper authorities. We often hope that a whistleblower will risk their career to come forward. The fact is, many whistleblowers are subject to retaliation and blowback at work after they’ve come forward.
Proving whistleblower retaliation can be complicated, but it’s something our Sacramento, CA, law office can assist with. Below are some basics on how to prove you’ve been subject to workplace retaliation.
Examples of Whistleblower Retaliation
Before we get into proving that whistleblower retaliation occurred, let’s first review some common examples of workplace retaliation.
One of the most common signs of whistleblower retaliation is being fired from your job after whistleblowing. Given protection laws for whistleblowers, this would be classified as an act of wrongful termination.
You don’t have to be fired to face retaliation, though. If you’ve been outed as the whistleblower at work, you may also be the target of harassment. This could be part of a concerted effort to make you quit your job or feel bullied.
Direct Evidence of Retaliation: An Obvious Causal Link
Direct evidence of retaliation means any sort of evidence that demonstrates a causal link between an employee’s whistleblowing and their employer’s retaliatory action.
For instance, there may be a Slack channel at work in which a supervisor or manager writes, “I don’t appreciate how Paul is raising the alarm about our accounting practices. I think we need to let him go before this gets out of hand.”
This kind of direct evidence is extremely rare. If it exists, however, it is a smoking gun.
Temporal Proximity: A Matter of Timing
Temporal proximity is a common form of circumstantial evidence that can help demonstrate whistleblowing retaliation. It essentially means that there was a short amount of time between the whistleblower coming forward and the retaliatory action against the whistleblower.
Keep in mind that employers may fabricate reasons for letting someone go in order to mask their retaliation. An employment attorney can help reveal the true motives behind the termination.
Application of Policies: A Matter of Consistency
Company policies are usually a template for how business should be run. Deviations from the written policy could be seen as a red flag of retaliation.
Examples of this could involve being turned down for a promotion or raise, being denied sick time or vacation time, being denied medical leave, and so forth. If the whistleblower followed the company policies when making these requests but the company did not follow through, this could be viewed as a retaliatory action.
What Evidence Is Helpful in These Cases?
Any documentation or correspondence with your employer is vital to helping prove retaliation. Be sure to save and back up the following evidence if you have it available:
- Chat logs
- Call logs
- Text messages
- Employee handbooks/policies
- Employee performance reviews
- Audio/video recordings
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Whistleblowers in California are protected by the California Labor Code, Section 1102.5.
Key elements to their protections are that the whistleblower must have engaged in protected activity (e.g., bringing company misconduct to light), demonstrate that they were materially affected by their employer’s retaliatory actions, and show a causal link between their protected activity and retaliation.
Were You the Victim of Retaliation? Take the Next Step.
If you suspect that your employer retaliated against you, you need our Sacramento law firm on your side. We can discuss your case, go over what evidence is available or needs to be compiled, and then help you move forward with your legal action.
The team at ThybergLaw stands with whistleblowers and we are ready to listen to you.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of workplace retaliation, it’s crucial that you set up a consultation at our Sacramento, CA, law office. We can review your case and determine your best course of action. To request a consultation, contact our employment law attorney today. You can also reach us by phone at (916) 204-9173.