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I was fired for whistleblowing. Is that legal?

You’re a person who believes that if you see something, you should say something. That’s likely what led you to blow the whistle on your employer for an unlawful workplace policy or unfair treatment of employees – even if you weren’t affected.

After making the report and doing the right thing, you suddenly find yourself without a job. Is that legal?

California protects whistleblowers

No, it’s not. If your employer retaliates against a whistleblower, that employer may be required to reinstate your employment and work benefits. They may need to pay your lost wages and take any other legal steps necessary to be compliant with California law.

It’s possible your employer, upon notifying you of your termination, highlighted a company policy regarding rules, regulations or policies they have established against whistleblowing. This is also illegal. Employers are not allowed to do this in California, so if you are fired under such a policy, it would qualify as wrongful termination.

An employer is also not allowed to retaliate against you for past whistleblowing. For instance, if you blew the whistle on a former employer, voluntarily left that job and started at a new company, that new company cannot terminate your employment if they find out you blew the whistle at your last place of employment. They may try to do this preemptively if they are afraid you may blow the whistle on them, but that is illegal.

These laws also extend to any person acting on behalf of the employer. If you are retaliated against by a third-party contractor or some other individual acting on your company’s behalf, you still have the same legal protection.

Assert your rights

Regardless of whether you are a private or public employee, you have every right to blow the whistle if you see something wrong at your workplace. If you were wrongfully terminated for whistleblowing, considering contacting an employment attorney who can help you gain any lost wages and have your employment restored.

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