Whistleblowers are modern day heroes, alerting government authorities to illegal activity. However, blowing the whistle on your employer can come with consequences.
In particular, your boss might retaliate against you through demotion, exclusion, or general hostility. If you have suffered an adverse employment action after blowing the whistle, you can file a California whistleblower protection claim by following the steps below.
Identify Why Your Employer Discriminated Against You
California employees have ample rights to protect them against retaliation. However, the particular process you follow will depend on why your employer retaliates against you:
- You might have reported illegal discrimination based on a protected characteristic, such as race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or age
- You might have reported a violation of workplace health and safety rules
- You might have reported or refused to participate in illegal activity
Once you identify why your employer retaliated against you, you will know how to file a claim.
You need evidence that your protected activity motivated your employer to retaliate. Generally, your employer will try to offer a non-retaliatory reason, such as a claim that your work performance has been substandard. You should find evidence that disproves the pretext offered by your employer.
Often, the strongest evidence is timing—you blew the whistle on your employer and shortly thereafter your boss took an adverse employment action against you. Once you file a lawsuit, you can look for other evidence, such as internal company communications that might discuss you.
Lodge a Claim Properly
The proper way to file a claim will depend on what conduct you blew the whistle on:
- If you blew the whistle on employee discrimination, you should contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to file a complaint. Typically, you have one year to file a complaint, so reach out to DFEH immediately.
- If you blew the whistle on health and safety violations, then contact the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) within six months of the retaliation.
- If you blew the whistle on other illegal activity, you can file a lawsuit in an appropriate court. Generally, you get two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the retaliation.
Work with an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
Even if you think you can file a whistleblower protection claim on your own, it is best to have an attorney help you. An experienced California whistleblower attorney can gather compelling evidence and make sure you follow all necessary steps. To speak to a lawyer with the Workplace Rights Law Group, please contact us today.