Whistleblower Retaliation Laws in California
Whistleblower Retaliation is when an employer commits an adverse employment action on the basis of his or her employee reporting to the appropriate authorities the illegal activities of his or her employer. There are different types of whistleblower retaliations. The different types are constituted by the following Labor Codes: Labor Code 98.6, Labor Code 1102.5, Labor Code 6310, and Labor Code 6311. In the following paragraphs, I will go more in-depth about each one of these labor codes and how it is related to whistleblower retaliation.
Labor Code 98.6 is a protection for employees who decide to report labor law violations to the authorities. For example, Labor Code 98.6 would protect an employee who decides to report to authorities how their employer is giving them and other employees less than the minimum wage. Thus, the employer’s actions are unlawful because the employer is violating the wage/hour law, which states that employees must receive the minimum salary for the certain amount of hours they are working. The statute of limitations for Labor Code 98.6 is six months to file a complaint with the California Law Commissioner and three years to file a lawsuit. After making a complaint, the Labor Commissioner may instruct the employer to give the employee back his or her lost wages, may instruct the employer to give the employee his or her position back at the workplace, or may instruct the employer to pay for the employee’s lawyer fees and charges (Whistleblower Protection California – A Guide to The Law (shouselaw.com)).
Labor Code 1102.5 is general whistleblower protection. For example, Labor Code 1102.5 would protect an employee who decides to report to authorities about an illegal action of their employer, and as a result of discovering this, their employer decides to fire them. Labor Code 1102.5 states that if the employee files a claim against the employer for wrongful termination and is protected under the whistleblower protection, then the employer may be required to give the employee lost wages due to the employer’s damages. In addition, the employer may have to give compensation to the employee for damages of emotional distress and pain. If the employer is found guilty of fraud, however, he may be facing more serious damages. The statute of limitation for Labor Code 1102.5 is that the employee has up to three years to file a lawsuit against his or her employer in the California Superior Court (Whistleblower Protection California – A Guide to The Law (shouselaw.com)).
Labor Code 6310 is a protection for employees who decide to report occupational health and safety violations to the authorities. For example, an employee may be terminated by their employer for reporting how tools are unsanitary at a hospital. Similar to Labor Code 98.6, employees protected under Labor Code 6310 may be entitled to lost compensation, may get the job position back, and may be entitled to paid lawyer fees by their employer. Another Labor Code that is important to note in regards to whistleblower protection laws is Labor Code 6311. Labor Code 6311 protects employees from adverse employment actions by their employer because the employee refuses to work due to unsafe working conditions. Thus, the employee feels that his or her safety is compromised at the workplace, and may also feel that his or her fellow employees’ safety is also compromised at the workplace (Whistleblower complaints (ca.gov)).