California Employment Law Attorney Assisting Clients with Whistleblower and Qui Tam Claims
Employees in California are protected by both federal and state law when it comes to matters of whistleblowing. It is important for California employees to know that they can file a qui tam lawsuit if an employer retaliates because of the employee’s decision to report unlawful or unsafe activity at the workplace. Whistleblower protections also extend to employees who face retaliation because they refuse to break the law or behave in an unlawful manner in the workplace. In addition, California law provides additional protections against retaliation to family members of whistleblowers.
If you have been retaliated against at work or have concerns about whistleblower protections, you should speak with an experienced California whistleblower attorney about your options. An advocate at Wagner & Pelayes, LLP can begin working on your claim today.
What is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is defined under California law as:
“an employee who discloses information to a government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or to another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or who provides information to or testifies before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses . . . a violation of a state or federal statute, a violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation, or with reference to employee safety or health, unsafe working conditions, or work practices in the employee’s employment or place of employment.”
In other words, a whistleblower is any employee who provides information about unlawful activity or behavior at a workplace, or unsafe activity or behavior at a workplace. California law also explains that a whistleblower includes an employee who “refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or violation.”
State of California Protections for Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers are protected under California law. Some of the protections include the following:
- Employers are prohibited from making or enforcing rules, regulations, or policies that prevent an employee from being a whistleblower;
- Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who is a whistleblower;
- Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who refuses to participate in an unlawful activity; and
- Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who exercises rights afforded to whistleblowers.
In addition, family members of an employee who has sought whistleblower protections under California law are also protected against retaliation. To be clear, whistleblowers and their family members are protected against retaliation for whistleblowing under California law.
When an employee files a claim for a violation, if the employer may be required to reinstate the employee, pay the employee lost wages, and take other remedial actions.
What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
A qui tam lawsuit is the phrase that is commonly used to refer to a whistleblowing claim that is brought under the state or federal False Claims Act. Generally speaking, a False Claims Act involves employer fraud against federal programs or federal contracts.
More specifically, a qui tam lawsuit is a claim brought by a private citizen employee against a company or a government entity that has retaliated against the employee because of certain whistleblowing activities. According to the California Attorney General, the qui tam provision of the California False Claims Act “permits a whistleblower to file an action to enforce the Act.” The federal False Claims Act has a similar provision.
Contact a California Whistleblower Attorney
Facing retaliation as a whistleblower can be daunting and intimidating, but an experienced California whistleblower lawyer can speak with you about your options for filing a wide variety of claims, including the possibility of a qui tam lawsuit. Contact Wagner & Pelayes, LLP for more information about the services we provide to employees in Southern California.