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Does California have a whistleblower law?

Almost every state has at least some mention of whistleblower protection in state laws, and California is no exception. California's whistleblower provisions are noted in Government Code §§53296 et seq. and cover all employers in the state. Note that there are also federal laws cover whistleblower protection that would also be applicable in some California-based cases.

The California code specifically protects employees who appropriately use whistleblowing protocols. This means that an employee has a reasonable reason to believe that he or she has information about a violation of federal or state law on the part of the employer or someone within the company. The employee reports such information to the appropriate state or federal authorities. In such cases, the law says employers cannot retaliate against that employee.

Retaliation could take the form of termination of employment, denial of benefits or being passed over for promotion or raise because of the whistleblowing. Harassment in the workplace might also be a form of retaliation.

If employees who have provided information to federal or state authorities about possible unlawful activities believe they are being retaliated against, they have options. Specifically, the California code requires that the employees report the incidents within 90 days of retaliation. The reports go to the State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

If you believe you are being retaliated against and you don't know what to do, consider seeking legal assistance with the case. You might also consider seeking legal help if you have information alleging wrong-doing, but you don't know how to report it to the proper authorities or you feel that you need legal representation to protect yourself as you do so.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Whistleblower Laws," accessed March 25, 2016

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