What does it mean to be a whistleblower?Whistleblowers are incredibly important to society because they shed light on illegal or fraudulent activities by their employers that the public would not otherwise know about. However, coming forward can be hard on an employee, particularly if they have participated in, or have been asked to participate in, the illegal or fraudulent activity. The good news is that California has strong whistleblower protection laws. These laws are in place to ensure that employees cannot be retaliated against when they come forward with information about the employer. In this state, whistleblower protections extend to:
- Employees who come forward to the police or regulatory agencies to report the illegal or fraudulent activities of their employer. These protections include those who come forward about suspected activity, even if they have no concrete evidence.
- Workers who submit internal reports to their supervisors or agency watchdogs, as well as those who make reports to government agencies or commissions conducting investigations.
- Those who do not work directly with an employer, including third-party contractors.
- Violations of state or federal labor laws
- Reporting unsafe working conditions
- Reporting workplace discrimination or harassment
- Knowledge of illegal dumping or pollution
- Reporting of wasteful activity by public agencies
Are qui tam claims different?Qui tam claims are also considered whistleblower cases, but these focus on employer fraud. This can include what is considered “white collar” criminal issues committed by an employer such as the following:
- Stock and securities fraud
- Healthcare fraud (Medicare/Medicaid)
- Tax fraud (political, business, non-profit agency, etc.)
- Any fraud concerning government funds