My employer fired me after I complained about something at work. Do I have a whistleblower claim?
A whistleblower is someone who reports suspected legal misconduct or violations in the workplace. If you were fired in retaliation for reporting something at work that you believe violated the law, you might have a whistleblower claim. As long as you made the complaint in good faith, you are legally protected as a whistleblower.
Whistleblower laws protect employees who report their employer’s illegal actions to a supervisor, H.R., or someone else with authority; or who file a complaint with a government agency. Employees have the right to complain about an employer’s unsafe working conditions, participation in illegal business practices, failure to investigate reports of unlawful discrimination or harassment, wage violations and other suspected illegal activities.
Employers are prohibited from firing employees in retaliation for complaining about illegal activity at work. Whistleblower retaliation can also take other subtler forms such as punishing an employee through a demotion, reducing shifts or denying professional opportunities. Additionally, employers cannot stop workers from cooperating with a law enforcement agency that may be investigating suspected violations.
In some cases, retaliation might not make for a strong wrongful termination case. For example, if you complain that your boss micromanages you, and then you get fired, this would likely not be a strong case for illegal termination because micromanaging is not prohibited by law. The thing you complain about must be something you reasonably and genuinely believe violates the law.
California whistleblower protection laws allow employees who suffer retaliation for reporting workplace legal violations to sue their employer for damages. At McCormack Law Firm, our employment lawyers can help you determine whether the laws apply to your situation and ensure you understand your rights as a whistleblower.