Here at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, our Los Angeles whistleblower attorney is often asked about employees’ legal options for filing a whistleblower retaliation complaint and lawsuit in California.
What many workers in California do not realize is that there are several options for taking legal action against an employer who retaliates against you for reporting a violation of law or safety regulations in the workplace.
What are your legal options if you are a whistleblower who has been fired by his or her employer in California? The idea of filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit in California Superior Court has probably crossed your mind, but did you know that, in certain situations, you may be required to file an administrative complaint with a state agency before filing a lawsuit?
Your course of action to sue your employer for firing or in any other way retaliating against you for whistleblowing depends on the nature of your complaint.
Labor Code 1102.5 LC: filing a complaint, and then suing
If you are dealing with the general whistleblower protection, also known as Labor Code 1102.5 LC, which prevents California employers from retaliating against employees for reporting a violation of or noncompliance with a law or regulation to a government or law enforcement agency.
Before suing your employer for violating the whistleblower protections of Labor Code 1102.5 LC, you are legally required to notify the California Labor and Workplace Development Agency using an online form. Also, you must notify your employer of your intentions to file a lawsuit via certified mail.
After providing the Labor and Workplace Development Agency with the notice, the California state agency may choose to take up your case and investigate your complaint. You have a right to file a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against your employer if the agency does not respond and does not take up your complaint about investigation within 65 days of the filing date.
Labor Code 98.6 or 6310: skip the complaint, go straight to suing
On the other hand, if your California employer violated the whistleblower protections of Labor Code 98.6 or 6310 (retaliation against an employee for complaining about labor or occupational health/safety law violations), then you are not required to file a complaint with a state agency prior to suing your employer.
In this is the case, you have a right to bypass the California Labor Commissioner, and go straight to filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit.
California statute of limitations for filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit
If you are a state government employee who has become a victim of whistleblower retaliation, the process of suing your employer is a bit different. Before filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the state government you are working for, you are legally required to file a complaint with the California State Personnel Board.
Regardless of whether you are suing a private or governmental employer, there are certain statutes of limitations you must be aware of. Under California law, there is a deadline for filing a complaint or lawsuit over whistleblower retaliation.
After the alleged act of retaliation, there is a time limit within which you can file a complaint or lawsuit. If you are filing a complaint or lawsuit for violating the whistleblower protections of Labor Code 1102.5 LC, you must file a lawsuit within three years.
The statute of limitations for filing a complaint with California Labor Commissioner over violations of Labor Code 98.6 and 6310 is six months, and three years to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you are a government employee in California, you have 12 months to file a complaint with the State Personnel Board. Failure to comply with the statute of limitations may result in any late filed claim being dismissed regardless of merit.
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