California Statutes Protecting Whistleblowers from Workplace Retaliation

Confronting your boss or alerting authorities about misconduct you witness at work is often intimidating, but we are all better off when you do it.

If you are fearful about the repercussions of exposing your employer’s misdeeds, remember that several California whistleblower protection statutes can shield you from workplace retaliation.

Below, we will review California statutes that outlaw employer retaliation.

And if you have been the target of retaliatory actions at work, our experienced employment law attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group can fight for your right to legal relief.

Contact us today to get started!

What Is Workplace Retaliation?

After you bring an employer’s unlawful actions to the attention of a supervisor or outside authority figure, you might notice conditions at work start to change.

Is every negative change in your employment situation workplace retaliation? What is workplace retaliation? 

Unlawful workplace retaliation occurs when your employer makes adverse employment decisions against you because you asserted your rights as a whistleblower.

There are many unlawful, retaliatory employment decisions an employer can make against you because of your whistleblowing, including: 

  • Job termination,
  • A negative job performance review,
  • A reduction in pay,
  • An unwanted job transfer,
  • A reduction in benefits,
  • A demotion,
  • Exclusion from a training opportunity, 
  • A denial of a promotion, 
  • A reduction in assignments, 
  • An increase in unfavorable assignments, 
  • An unwanted shift change, 
  • A refusal to grant vacation or sick leave,
  • Unwarranted disciplinary action, and
  • Harassment.  

If you are a whistleblower who has been the target of negative treatment at work and your employer has no good cause to punish you or deny you benefits, you are likely the victim of unlawful retaliation.

California Laws that Offer Protection from Retaliation in the Workplace

California law makes employment retaliation illegal in a variety of situations. The statute that can protect you from retaliatory work behavior depends on the type of job you have and the type of workplace misconduct you report. 

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers cannot discriminate against employees because of protected characteristics like religion, race, color, nationality, genetics, marital status, veteran status, military status, disability, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or age (40 and older).

If your employer mistreats you because of one of your protected characteristics, you have a right to file a lawsuit or government complaint.

And if your employer punishes or threatens you for filing a discrimination complaint or helping with a discrimination investigation, you have a right to sue your employer for unlawful retaliation. 

California’s Labor Code

California employers need to follow several rules under California’s Labor Code to ensure the fair treatment of each employee.

These rules include laws requiring proper payment for work performed (including overtime), provision of rest and meal breaks, and timely payment of wages.

You have a right to file a wage complaint against your employer if you do not receive full compensation or adequate breaks, and you have a right to protection from retaliation for asserting your wage and break rights. 

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Laws

Your workplace should be a reasonably safe environment, and the Safety in Employment division of California’s Labor Code gives you an avenue for exposing or protecting yourself from unsafe working conditions.

If you report hazardous working conditions or refuse to perform work that violates the state’s safety codes, the law can safeguard you from workplace punishment. 

California’s Healthcare and Child Daycare Laws

Under the California Child Day Care Act, employees who work for daycare facilities cannot be punished for reporting employers violating daycare licensing laws or other state laws regarding child care.

It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against a child daycare employee who refuses to perform work that violates California’s childcare laws. 

If you are a healthcare worker, California’s Health and Safety Code prevents your employer from making adverse decisions against you for notifying the government about unsafe patient care and conditions.

The law also protects you from retaliation for participating in the investigation or prosecution of another healthcare worker’s complaint about patient care. 

The California False Claims Act

If your employer seeks benefits from the government and their request for benefits is fraudulent, you can use the California False Claims Act to report your employer to the Attorney General.

Not only does this California law protect you against employer retaliation, but its qui tam provision might also entitle you to a percentage of whatever funds the Attorney General recovers from your employer. 

The California Whistleblower Protection Act

Not only do employees and the public need protection from the misconduct of private businesses, but the residents of this state also need protection from the misconduct of government agencies.

The California Whistleblower Protection Act shields state employees from retaliation when they report the unlawful behavior of their government employers. 

Other Retaliation Protections 

If you do not see a statute on the above list that applies directly to your dilemma, do not assume that you don’t have legal cover.

Speak to one of our knowledgeable employment attorneys about your concerns, so we can develop the best strategy for protecting your livelihood. 

Our California Whistleblower Lawyer Can Help Protect You

At Workplace Rights Law Group, our experienced whistleblower attorneys develop unique strategies to address the needs of mistreated employees.

We have over 70 years of combined experience in employment law, and we have recovered millions on behalf of employees in California.

When you speak out against misconduct, we can speak up to protect you. Call us at 818-334-6881 or contact us online for a free case review. 


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
1 votes, average: 1.00 out of 5