Whistleblowing usually involves raising concerns about a company’s negligent, unethical, unlawful, fake, fraudulent or dangerous action. The behavior can vary from violating corporate policy and procedural requirements to unlawful transactions, or to a threat against public safety, health, including fraud and safety violations.
Elements the Plaintiff Must Establish
According to CACI 4603 to establish the claim the plaintiff must be able to prove the following elements:
- Defendant was the plaintiff’s employer
- Defendant believed that the plaintiff might disclose or had disclosed to a law enforcement agency, government agency or any person with authority over the plaintiff or an employee with authority to discover, investigate, or correct the noncompliance or legal violations which specify information disclosed or
- Plaintiff provided information to testify before a public body that was conducting an investigation, inquiry or hearing or
- Plaintiff refused to specify activity in which he refused to participate
- Plaintiff had reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation
- Plaintiff’s disclosure of information or refusal to specify was a contributing factor in defendant’s decision to discharge him
- Defendant’s conduct caused harm to the plaintiff
The plaintiff must have reasonable belief that the defendant’s policies violated federal, state, or local statutes, rules or regulations. The disclosure of policies that an employee considers gross misconduct, wasteful, unwise is not protected. Disclosure of information is protected even though disclosing can be a part of the plaintiff’s work duties.
Protections, That Are Available to Whistleblowers
- The employer is not allowed to adopt, make, or enforce any regulation, rule, or policy preventing his employee from being a whistleblower.
- The employer cannot retaliate against a whistleblower employee
- The employer cannot retaliate against an employee, who refuses to participate in an activity which can result in a violation of a federal or state statute, or a noncompliance or violation of a federal or state regulation or rule
- The employer cannot retaliate against an employee, who has exercised his rights as a whistleblower in any previous employment.
In case the employer fires the employee for whistleblowing illegal information, his action would be considered a wrongful termination, and he will be penalized for workplace retaliation against whistleblowers. Whistleblowers have a right to remain anonymous, employers can try to discover who made the complaint or file a False Claim Act case.
Some General Situations, Including Law Violations at Workplace:
- Misleading business practices
- Violations of health and safety regulations
- Racial discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- False invoices
- Fraudulent financial document
- Lying loan documents
- Tax fraud
- False claims
Do Whistleblowers Get Rewards in California?
Whistleblowing laws in California can provide for monetary reward to whistleblowers who managed to successfully recover funds for the government. In case the whistleblowing was related to fraud against the government, the person can receive a monetary reward through a qui tam lawsuit. According to the False Claims Act, a person who supports in stopping fraud can receive up to thirty percent of what the government recovers from the guilty party.
In some cases, whistleblowers can also receive compensation for emotional distress they suffered in the result of retaliation by the company or individual they reported.