Defend Your Rights with a Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyer

You exposed your employer when you discovered fraud, safety violations, or unethical conduct in the workplace. Now, you’re facing consequences like reduced pay or termination. Perhaps you just noticed illicit activity in your organization and wonder whether you’d be risking too much if you called it out.

If this seems familiar, you should consult a California whistleblower retaliation lawyer. Contact us at Kent | Pincin to learn how our legal team can protect your rights.

What Is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a worker who reports their employer to a law enforcement or government agency on reasonable suspicion of illegal practices like fraud, safety violations, or criminal activity. Whistleblowers usually do so on principle and out of a refusal to be an accomplice to such activities. 

It’s not easy to take a stand against your management and coworkers. Whistleblowers often put their careers on the line to do the right thing. However, as our employment attorneys can explain, several laws in California protect whistleblowers against illegal retaliation. 

Common Types of Whistleblower Cases

Whistleblowers often report their employers or organizations for unlawful activities, such as the following:

  • Fraud, like intentionally concealing product defects 
  • Non-compliant processes that harm the environment
  • Pervasive discrimination and harassment in the workplace
  • Tax violations, like misreporting income or wages
  • Violations of OSHA health and safety guidelines

Criminal activity like money laundering 

What Is the Whistleblower Retaliation Law in California?

Under the California whistleblower protection law, your employer can’t fire or demote you, deny you a promotion, reduce your pay, or otherwise retaliate against you for your whistleblowing activity. This is true even if you make a mistake and an investigation eventually clears your employer, provided that your suspicions were reasonable and you called out your organization in good faith.

How Do You Prove Retaliation in the Workplace in California?

If you blow the whistle on unlawful practices in your company and your employer fires you soon after for no obvious reason, you likely have grounds for a whistleblower retaliation claim. However, whistleblower retaliation can take subtler forms, like gradually worsening an employee’s conditions or applying social pressure until the worker quits. 

Proving unjust retaliation can be tricky, which is why you should consult an experienced whistleblower retaliation lawyer as soon as you suspect your company is taking steps against you.

Recognizing Whistleblower Retaliation

How do you know that what you’re experiencing is retaliation and not normal shifts in company dynamics? Ask yourself:

  • Are you losing income? Did your employer deny you an expected promotion once you became a whistleblower? Did an excessively critical performance review deprive you of a bonus?
  • Did your work conditions worsen? Did you lose security clearance or access to important documentation? Has your employer announced that you’re moving to a different office, farther from your home or otherwise less convenient for you?
  • Do you feel socially isolated at work? Do you sense hostility from your employer or coworkers? Are negative rumors about you circulating in the office? Are you excluded from work events?

If you consider quitting because your employer has made your work conditions unbearable after you reported their fraud or misconduct, there’s a high chance you’re experiencing whistleblower retaliation.

Showing the Link Between Whistleblowing and Workplace Penalties

The core of whistleblower retaliation cases is establishing a link between whistleblowing and the employer’s adverse actions. Simply put, you must prove that your employer is punishing you for reporting their wrongdoing. 

You’ll have to show that:

  • You engaged in a protected activity, like reporting fraud, criminal activity, or discriminatory practices in your organization.
  • Your organization retaliated against you in a way that materially affected your employment, like reducing your pay, excluding you from opportunities, or passing you over for promotion.
  • There’s a likely connection between the whistleblowing activity and the workplace penalties you suffered.

The last point can be difficult to establish. Your employer may claim that they terminated your contract because of structural reorganization or that they moved you from a private to a shared office space following budget cuts. That’s why you should hire an experienced whistleblower retaliation lawyer with a good track record of handling cases like yours.

Collecting Evidence of Retaliation

Different kinds of documentation, witness testimonies, and communication records can serve as evidence that your employer retaliated against you because of your whistleblowing.

1. Internal Complaint Records

When you report unlawful conduct in your company, you don’t necessarily have to file an internal complaint. However, making such a complaint through the organization’s internal channels can strengthen your whistleblower retaliation claim. It proves that your employer knew you blew the whistle.

2. Performance Evaluations

A record of excellent work can be helpful if your employer uses the “same action” line of defense, claiming that another employee in a similar position would have faced the same adverse action.

For instance, if you collected an important bonus or award a short while before exposing illicit conduct in your organization, it will be much harder for your employer to claim that they fired or demoted you because of subpar performance.

3. Communications That Show Retaliatory Intent

It’s even better if you can source internal emails, Slack messages, or texts that discuss your whistleblowing actions and show that the management intended to retaliate against you. Your whistleblower retaliation lawyer may be able to gain access to such documentation during the discovery process.

What Protections Can I Expect as a Whistleblower?

The California False Claims Act grants solid protection to employees who experienced unlawful retaliation following their whistleblowing. Specifically, if your employer acts against you for reporting fraud or other misconduct within the organization, whistleblower protection may grant you:

  • Reinstatement in your former job or a position you would likely have occupied if it weren’t for the adverse employment actions
  • Any other damages you suffered because of the retaliation
  • In some cases, punitive damages

If you win your case, your employer must also cover attorney fees and litigation costs.

What Do I Do If I Fear Workplace Retaliation for Whistleblowing?

Ideally, you’ll take steps to protect yourself from retaliation before you blow the whistle on your organization’s fraud or noncompliance. Contact us at Kent | Pincin to learn how you can prevent retaliation or fight against it if it happens.

A knowledgeable whistleblower retaliation lawyer can let you know which documentation you should save, which records may be off limits (like trade secrets, client lists, and other proprietary information), and whether you may have the option to remain anonymous so your organization won’t be able to target you.

In some cases, you won’t be able to protect your identity. For example, if you’re the only person with access to certain records, your employer will likely guess who blew the whistle. In this situation, you should:

  • Save all your communication with your employer, supervisor, and HR department, especially about actions you consider retaliatory
  • Make regular backups of emails, text messages, performance reports, and other documentation that can serve as evidence
  • Always keep your phone locked with a PIN code or fingerprint when at work

How Long Do You Have To File a Whistleblower Retaliation Claim?

California’s standard deadline for whistleblower retaliation claims is three years, but in some cases, you’ll need to act within a shorter timeframe. For example, if you’re a state government employee, you must file a complaint with the State Personnel Board within a year. 

To ensure you’re acting within the statute of limitations, contact us and schedule a consultation with a whistleblower retaliation lawyer as soon as you notice your employer is acting against you or even before that. Your attorney will let you know how long you’d have to file a claim. 

Moreover, the sooner you act, the easier it will be for your attorney to build a strong case. Documentation may be more readily available, witness testimonies will be fresher, and your employer will have less time to cover up evidence of their illegal retaliation.

Meet Our Attorneys

Michael J. Kent & Emily R. Pincin

Michael Kent was inspired to become an attorney by his passion for piecing together puzzles and information in his younger years. He loves nothing more than analyzing cases to piece together evidence and find out what a defendant is hiding, to obtain a positive outcome. Michael’s father, as well as his in-laws, are attorneys who have provided valuable mentorship and guidance relating to the civil justice system.

“I want to help people piece their lives back together and move forward. They deserve to be given a voice and feel protected whatever the circumstances.”

Emily Pincin was motivated to become an attorney by her affection for reading, writing, and understanding the intricacies of the law. Raised in a household with a court reporter mother, Emily familiarized herself with the justice system and became passionate about helping others through their most difficult times.

“Everything about what we do really comes down to helping the client feel that they can achieve a feeling of justification and peace. We are working to help them attain a sense of vindication.”

Emily and Michael

How Can a Whistleblower Attorney Help?

Whistleblower retaliation claims are often complicated. Your organization will almost certainly deny it used penalties to punish you for your whistleblowing actions. Your employer will say that they terminated your contract because of inadequate performance or that your work conditions worsened only because of administrative changes.

In this situation, our experienced whistleblower retaliation lawyers can:

  • Examine your case and determine whether your actions fall under protected whistleblowing activity
  • Establish a link between your termination, demotion, suspension, or pay reduction and your whistleblower actions
  • Act against your employer (or former employer) and fight to have you reinstated in your former position 
  • Help you seek compensation for lost pay and benefits, future earnings, reputational harm, emotional distress, and attorney fees
  • Negotiate an appropriate settlement on your behalf or represent you in court if your case ends in trial

Caring for our Clients

Let Kent | Pincin Protect Your Rights

Are you facing termination, demotion, or other adverse employment actions after calling out wrongdoing in your organization? Contact us at Kent | Pincin Law. Our skilled attorneys protect whistleblowers against unlawful employer conduct. We can help you learn your legal options and fight for your rights as a whistleblower in California.

Call 310-376-0922 or fill out our form to consult a whistleblower retaliation lawyer today. We have answers to all the above questions and more and can walk you through the proper legal steps. We’re conveniently located at 120 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA.

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