Coyle Browne Law

San Diego Whistleblower & Retaliation Lawyer

San Diego Whistleblower & Retaliation Attorney

Some schemes against the government, fraudulent practices of businesses, and other nefarious situations have been revealed because workers with inside knowledge have bravely come forward to report illegal, unsafe, or unethical practices by their employers. These employees put themselves at risk of retaliation if their employer finds out about their report. Fortunately, laws exist to protect these brave whistleblowers. If you fear retaliation or have questions about whistleblower protections, contact the San Diego Employment Lawyers at Browne Employment Lawyers for help.

What Is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is someone who reports wrongful conduct by their employer. Typically, the employer’s wrongdoing has to do with one or more of the following:

  • The commission of a crime
  • The violation of a law, rule, or regulation
  • Gross mismanagement
  • Gross waste of funds
  • An abuse of authority
  • A significant and specific danger to public health or safety

Whistleblowers may be governmental employees. However, they could also be private-sector employees, contractors, or subcontractors.

What Is Whistleblower Protection?

Because the law recognizes that whistleblowers perform an important public service, there are various protections afforded to these individuals. One such protective law is the Whistleblower Protection Act. This law was established to protect employees who make a protected disclosure from retaliation, which may include:

  • Taking action against the whistleblower, such as firing, demoting, or giving a lower wage to them
  • Failing to take positive action with the whistleblower, such as not promoting them
  • Threatening to take action against the whistleblower

The law protects the disclosure of information from employees that they reasonably believe shows evidence of an activity that is a violation of a law, mismanagement, abuse of authority, gross waste of funds, or a significant and specific danger to public health or safety.

Whistleblower protection laws may allow workers to make reports confidentially so that they do not have to worry about retaliation. They also provide legal remedies if the whistleblower is retaliated against.

If you believe that your were fired due to a retaliatory action, our wrongful termination attorneys will help you seek justice and compensation for your employers wrongful actions.

Who Is Covered by Whistleblower Protection?

Whistleblower protections may extend to government workers, private sector workers, contractors, and subcontractors, depending on the situation. Qui tam lawsuits allow private citizens to sue on behalf of the government even if they have not suffered any personal harm. They may also allow citizens to recover part of the recoveries the government makes due to the disclosures.

Whistleblower Protection Laws in California

The following are some key laws in California that protect whistleblowers from retaliation and ensure justice prevails. 

Labor Code 1102.5 LC: Shielding Those Who Uncover Hidden Violations

An integral part of California’s whistleblower protection framework, Labor Code 1102.5, prevents employers from retaliating against employees who reveal legal violations or offer information during investigations. Be it any form of discrimination, unlawful conduct, or unethical actions, this law ensures employees have the courage to report such occurrences without fear or trepidation:


An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information, to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee or another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties.”

Labor Code 98.6 LC: Wage and Hour Law Violations

Focusing specifically on wage and hour law violations, Labor Code 98.6 protects employees who assert their rights under California wage laws, file complaints, or cooperate in investigations. Whether it’s unpaid overtime, denied breaks, or improper classification, this law shields those who strive for fair compensation and treatment.

Labor Code 6310 LC: Health and Safety Reports

Workers’ well-being and safety should always be a top priority. Labor Code 6310 supports employees who report violations of occupational health and safety regulations, ensuring that employers cannot punish them for their commitment to safe working conditions.

Government Code 8547 GC: Safeguarding Public Servants 

Government employees often handle sensitive information and critical operations. For this reason, they need specific protections. That’s where Government Code 8547 comes in. It guards public employees who report law violations, health and safety threats, economic waste, or gross misconduct, encouraging them to remain vigilant and responsible:


 The Legislature finds and declares that state employees should be free to report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law, or threat to public health without fear of retribution. The Legislature further finds and declares that public servants best serve the citizenry when they can be candid and honest without reservation in conducting the people’s business.”

Qui Tam Provision of the California False Claims Act: Defending Against Retaliation for Fraud Reporting

Fraud and embezzlement can have devastating consequences on both organizations and the public. The Qui Tam provision of the California False Claims Act protects whistleblowers who bring fraudulent activities to light, ensuring they don’t face retaliatory action for their actions.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act: Upholding Rights of Discrimination and Harassment Reporters

Workplace discrimination and harassment can be immensely damaging to employees’ mental and emotional well-being. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) specifically protects employees who report such wrongdoings, defending their rights and ensuring they can speak up without fear.

Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989: A Federal Shield for Government Employees

Finally, it’s essential to mention the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 – a federal law that protects government employees who expose illegality, waste, and corruption. By safeguarding those who report unscrupulous conduct at the federal level, this Act reinforces justice and accountability throughout the government.

Common Violations that Lead to Whistleblowing

There are a variety of violations that may lead to whistleblowing. A common source of whistleblower reports is due to health care fraud involving Medicare and Medicaid, such as through:

  • Submitting false claims for reimbursement
  • Wrongly billing for unnecessary care
  • Overbilling
  • Inflating employee work hours
  • Wrongly billing for drugs or services not rendered or necessary
  • Engaging in fraudulent practices in the sale of prescription medications
  • Selling drugs with questionable safety

Other common violations that lead to whistleblowing include reports of:

  • Tax evasion
  • Brokerage firm fraud
  • Defense procurements or defense contract fraud
  • Underpayment of royalties
  • Construction cases
  • Computer supplier fraud
  • Pharmaceutical billing fraud
  • COVID-19 or pandemic relief fund fraud

Recoverable Damages in a Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

A successful whistleblower retaliation claim can result in various forms of damages being awarded to compensate for an employer’s retaliatory actions:

Lost Wages and Benefits: This could include back pay (wages and benefits you would have earned from the date of termination until the judgment date) and front pay (future lost wages, from the judgment going forward).

Litigation Costs and Reasonable Attorney’s Fees: Litigation can be costly, but a successful whistleblower claim can enable you to recover these expenses.

Emotional Distress Damages: Whistleblower retaliation often results in a substantial psychological toll along with financial strain. Courts acknowledge this and may award damages for the emotional suffering that the retaliatory conduct has imposed on you.

Punitive Damages: Courts may also award punitive damages if they find that the employer acted maliciously.

The specific monetary value attached to each category of damage varies based upon your particular situation. Always speak with an attorney to determine your potential damages.

How an Attorney Can Help with a Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

Whistleblower lawsuits can be complicated. An attorney with experience dealing with these specialized claims can explain your rights, identify where a report should be made, advise you on steps to take to protect yourself, and assist you with making claims. Many of these claims have a “first to file” rule, so time is of the essence. Contact Browne Employment Lawyers, PLC for help today.

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