During the last couple of years, people have begun wondering what type of protection California provides to private sector employees when it comes down to issues such as retaliation or whistleblowing.
Well, so far, the general rule was that employees may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever, without the employers facing any legal issues whatsoever. However, in recent times, a couple of exceptions have appeared, these being released by courts, or the actual legislature. With this in mind, statuary protections are often given or cases such as discrimination, compensation etc. Based on this, it has been stated that an employer cannot fire an employee for a reason which is thought to violate the principles of the public policy.
To put things better into perspective, here are the activities which the state law protects: (1) (2) refusing to violate a statute, (3) exercising constitutional rights, and (4) reporting statutory violations for the public’s benefit or performing a statutory obligation. Additionally, Californian employees have also been protected from retaliatory discharge for the following reasons: discussing wages, advocating health care, disclosing anti-trust violations, reporting overtime wage violations and exercising medical and family leave rights under the well-known Family Rights Act.
Together with this, whistle-blowers who go ahead and report illegal activities to their supervisors rather than law enforcement may be protected from time to time. To be fully protected however, a whistle-blower should report the activity to the competent law enforcement office. Other exceptions to the general rule which must be outlined include discrimination, the use of health care facilities, miscellaneous conduct, occupational safety and health, discussing worker’s compensation, and more.
At this moment in time, residents of California can go ahead and fill a whistle-blower or retaliation claim by filling a lawsuit in the appropriate court. Complaints for discrimination can be made with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, whereas occupational safety and health issues can be reported to the California Division of Labour Standards Enforcement. If worker’s compensation is the issue, then an employee can file a complaint with the California Division of Workers’ Compensation. Do keep in mind that the complaints should mostly be filled within one year of the issue- the quicker, the better.