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Santa Barbara Whistleblower Protection Attorney

Protecting Your Property in a High Asset Divorce

Whistleblower laws exist to protect individuals who report suspected illegal activity. It covers various activities, including discrimination, workplace safety violations, and employment laws. Since the government makes losses amounting to billion of dollars per year due to fraudulent actions, California whistleblowers may also receive financial rewards.

An employee can seek damages against their employer under federal and state laws if they are retaliated against for reporting illegal activity. Therefore, ensure you contact us today if you believe your employer has taken action against you in retaliation for reporting suspected illegal activity.

Whistleblower Protection Laws in Santa Barbara, California

California includes very strong whistleblower protection laws. An individual is protected under the Whistleblower protection statute for reporting a violation of federal and state laws or regulations and unsafe or hostile working conditions. The Attorney General went a step further to establish a whistleblowing hotline to help make investigations easier.

If you are unaware of the whistleblowing hotline, the law also protects you if you report the suspected behavior to a superior within the organization. What this means is that employees get protection against retaliation for reporting suspicious activity or in anticipation of whistleblower activity.

California Qui Tam Whistleblower Protections

The government knows that whistleblowers take a substantial professional and personal risk to report fraudulent activities by their employers. Therefore, whistleblowing laws provide protection, safety, and possible financial compensation to employees who bring illegal activities to light.

The False Claim Act in Santa Barbara, CA allows an employee to file a lawsuit against those intentionally and actively defrauding the government. Under California law, these actions are referred to as qui tam lawsuits. Thousands of qui tam lawsuits in California have resulted in rewards for employees who took significant risks to report fraud and aid the government recover funds.

The False Claims Act offers the following benefits and protections to whistleblowers:

  • Employee protection – the Department of Justice handles qui tam whistleblower cases ‘under seal’. This means the fraud is investigated in secret until adequate information is gathered. Therefore, employees can report suspicious illegal activity without fear of being disclosed.
  • Monetary compensation – qui tam lawsuits are often closed through compensation. However, some may go to trial, depending on the severity and complexity of the whistleblowing case. The whistleblower could potentially receive up to 30% of the recovered funds once a verdict or settlement is given.

Differentiating Whistleblower Action and Whistleblower Retaliation Action

There are two sides to the whistleblower law, which can make it rather confusing. The first is the actual qui tam lawsuit against the employer for fraud. The second is the retaliation actions against the whistleblower by the employer.

The company may, therefore, face two lawsuits if they retaliate against an employee whistleblower – the retaliation action and qui tam action. An experienced Santa Barbara, CA employment law attorney of santabarbaraemploymentattorney.com can help you better understand the two types of whistleblower action.

What Employer Actions Constitute Retaliation

Retaliation can include a variety of employer behaviors because it is a rather vague term. However, the Department of Labor defines retaliation as all and any adverse actions that a company may take against workers. A few examples of retaliation actions include the following:

  • Employment termination
  • Demotion
  • Blacklisting
  • Denial of benefits
  • Failure to rehire or hire
  • Denial of promotion
  • Harassment or intimidation
  • Disciplining
  • Making threats
  • Reducing employee hours or pay
  • Reassigning less desirable tasks to the employee

Anticipatory Retaliation

Sometimes retaliation can begin before the employee reports a company’s wrongdoing. Referred to as anticipatory retaliation, organizations use this tactic to prevent or discourage a whistleblower from filing a report. An employer’s suspicion that one of their employees is going to blow the whistle often causes anticipatory retaliation.

Constructive Termination

Contrary to what most people think, employee termination does not occur only when the employer fires an employee. However, there are various other types of employee termination under the law. For instance, constructive termination occurs when an employer forces an employee to resign by making working conditions extremely hostile.

Most employees will resort to constructive termination in an effort to circumvent anti-discrimination and whistleblower laws. However, explicit termination and constructive termination are considered equal according to California law. Ensure you talk with your attorney to help you prove constructive termination.

Steps to Proving Whistleblower Retaliation

The most challenging part of your whistleblower retaliation claim is proving retaliation. Many employers will indirectly engage in retaliation behavior, thus making it quite difficult to prove. In most instances, it can be hard to determine whether adverse employment actions were a result of whistleblowing activity or ordinary employee performance shortcomings. Therefore, whistleblowers must rely on the following types of evidence:

Direct Evidence

These include written or verbal statements showcasing the employer’s intention to take adverse action against the whistleblower for reporting illegal activity. It could be a direct message from a superior asking the whistleblower’s supervisor that a specific employee needs to be reallocated. However, this type of evidence in whistleblower cases can be difficult to obtain.

Circumstantial Evidence

This is the most common type of evidence in whistleblower cases. Despite not directly linking the whistleblower’s employer to retaliation, it showcases that the whistleblower’s actions formed the primary basis for the adverse employment action. Circumstantial evidence often includes the following:

  • Shifting explanations for the employer’s action
  • A significant change in the employer’s attitude
  • Evidence suggesting the explanation by the employer was pretextual
  • Temporal proximity between adverse employment actions and the actions of the whistleblower
  • Inconsistent application of company policies by the employer

Legal Damages for Whistleblower Retaliation

A whistleblower is entitled to compensation when an employer retaliates against them. Some of the most common remedies for whistleblower retaliation include the following:

  • Emotional distress damages
  • Reversal of adverse actions
  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay and front pay
  • Punitive damages
  • Consequential damages

Contact an Employment Law Attorney Today

Employees in Santa Barbara, CA should not feel intimated at the thought of reporting an employer’s illegal actions. The state includes several laws that offer adequate protection. It is also within your right to file a legal claim if you are a victim of retaliation.

Luckily, the Santa Barbara, CA employment law attorneys of santabarbaraemploymentattorney.com have years of experience handling whistleblowing, retaliation, and qui tam cases. Feel free to contact us today for more information.