Whistleblower Actions – An Overview
“Whistleblower” is a term commonly used to describe an employee who has exposed the illegal conduct of their employer. Whistleblowers do a great service to society because the activities they expose typically relate to conduct which is endangering or defrauding their fellow employees or the public at large. Thus, both law and public policy encourage whistle blowing in the public as well as the private sector.
Common examples of the type of fraud or illegal conduct exposed by whistleblowers include reporting violations of OSHA regulations, wage and hour laws, healthcare fraud, Medicaid or Medicare fraud, overbilling the government, and falsely reporting environmental compliance. When such activities are exposed, whistleblowers are often at risk of reprisal from their employers. Such reprisal may take the form of being fired, denied a promotion, demoted, harassed, suspended or otherwise being discriminated against at the workplace.
There are a variety of different Federal and California State laws which protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. These laws cover employees working in both the public and private sectors. If an employer is found to have committed an act of retaliation, they may be liable for compensatory damages, such as back pay, as well as a variety of other special and even punitive damages.