Don’t be afraid to be a whistleblower

While the vast majority of businesses in California operate above board, there are a few where employees may notice questionable, possibly illegal things taking place. Those who are witness to such things have every right to speak up. A whistleblower should feel free to express concerns without fear of retaliation.

There are both state and federal laws in place that protect whistleblowers. In order to be protected under state or federal laws, a whistleblower has to have reason to believe his or her employer is violating the law. He or she also has to report the issue to the proper authorities — either one’s employer or a federal agency.

Some employment contracts and employee handbooks include information about how to deal with misconduct and whistleblowing. They also typically include information regarding confidentiality and what employees are allowed to share with those outside the company. While bringing any illegal actions of employers to light is encouraged, one may have to limit what is shared in order to protect oneself from being subject to lawsuits for breaking a confidentially agreement.

California residents who believe that their employers are engaging in illegal activity, no matter what it is, have the right to seek assistance, bringing the issue to light. Legal counsel can review the details of the case and, if appropriate, assist the whistleblower in doing what is necessary to hold his or her employer accountable. If retaliatory action is taken against the employee, an experienced attorney can help that individual with filing a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.