San Diego Whistleblower Protection Lawyer
As an employee, you should not be punished or lose your job for doing the right thing and reporting your employer’s illegal activities. Ferraro Vega is here to represent you. Call (619) 693-7727 to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego whistleblower protection lawyer.
In California, whistleblowers are entitled to protection from adverse employment actions when complaining about or reporting illegal activities.
Worried about retaliation or have suffered retaliation already? Contact our team today.
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How Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers Can Help with Your Whistleblower Case
When you choose to blow the whistle on your employer, you gain valuable protection under federal and state law. However, that does not mean your employer will not attempt to retaliate in some way, such as terminating you or making your job more difficult.
At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we are here to represent you in your claim against your employer and protect you from retaliation.
Our employment attorneys can help you gather evidence before blowing the whistle. Your lawyer can also help by stepping in after you blow the whistle to protect you against retaliation before it occurs. If you have already suffered retaliation of some kind, a whistleblower lawyer will help you build a case against your employer for damages.
Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers exclusively handles employment law cases. By focusing entirely on employment litigation, we have gained valuable expertise in employment law and protection for employees. Our employment attorneys spent years working at some of the largest law firms in the United States. We put this experience to work for you on a contingency-fee basis.
When you choose Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers to represent you, we will:
- Investigate your claim to determine if your employer’s actions reach the level of illegal conduct covered by relevant whistleblower laws
- File complaints with the correct government agencies
- Ensure all steps are followed to maximize a potential reward
- Represent you when working with the government agency investigating your claim
- Negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair settlement if your employer retaliates against you
- File a lawsuit against your employer for retaliation if a settlement cannot be reached
Whistleblower claims are notoriously complex. They may involve a number of federal and state statutes and complicated reporting rules. Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers is here to help you through every step of your case. Contact our law group today to schedule a consultation with our experienced employment lawyers in San Diego.
What Is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an employee who reports behavior they reasonably believe is unlawful in good faith. Many employees in San Diego are hesitant to report an employer, supervisor, or coworkers when they observe illegal activity, whether it is fraud or discrimination, for fear of losing their jobs. This is where federal and state whistleblower protection laws come in.
A whistleblower may report many types of behavior that is illegal (i.e., discrimination), unsafe (OSHA violations), or fraud.
Federal & California Laws Protecting Whistleblowers
There are numerous federal and California laws that protect whistleblowers. Some of these laws protect whistleblowers in specific industries or scenarios. Others offer broad protection when reporting illegal activities.
The following are some of the most important California whistleblower protection laws.
- Labor Code Section 1102.5 protects employees who blow the whistle about (or refuses to participate in) illegal activities. This is the broadest protection for whistleblowers. The behavior you are blowing the whistle over does not actually need to be illegal if you believed it was in good faith.
- Labor Code 6399.7 protects employees who file a complaint or testify about workplace safety and health issues.
- Labor Code Section 98.6 protects employees who file a complaint regarding labor code violations. These violations are filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Labor Commissioner.
- Government Code Section 12653 covers an employee who reports fraudulent or illegal billing. You are protected when the federal government is billed.
- Government Code Section 12940 covers employees who oppose discrimination and harassment. Protected classes are sexual orientation, sex, age, marital status, disability, medical condition, ancestry, religion, color, and national origin.
- Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 covers physicians, nurses, medical staff, or patients. This protection applies to patient care issues within a healthcare facility.
If you are a federal employee, you are protected under additional federal law. The agency you work for cannot retaliate for blowing the whistle on legal violations, government waste, or fraud. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 and the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 both protect you.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces whistleblower protections under several whistleblower statutes. These statutes protect employees reporting workplace health and safety violations in many industries.
What Is a Qui Tam Case?
If you have evidence that your employer was defrauding the United States government, you may pursue a qui tam action. This type of action is made under the False Claims Act. This act authorizes lawsuits to help the government recover damages and penalties from those who commit fraud against the government.
Qui tam lawsuits can involve many types of fraud, including Medicare fraud, procurement fraud, and defense contractor fraud. Some types of fraud, however, are not entitled to a reward and do not qualify for a qui tam lawsuit such as tax fraud.
It’s important to note that the False Claims Act requires relators use an attorney to file a qui tam lawsuit. These cases are filed “under seal” in federal district court which means only the government is aware the case exists. This allows the government to investigate allegations and decide whether it will join the case.
If your qui tam claim is successful, you may be entitled to a whistleblower reward as a relator. When the case is successful, the whistleblower is entitled to 15-25% of the amount the government collects. If the government does not join the case and the whistleblower pursues it, the whistleblower can be awarded 25-30% of the amount collected.
Note: California also allows qui tam claim lawsuits for fraud against the State of California. The California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act allows you to receive a financial reward for fighting fraud against private insurers. You may also recover an award for fraud involving many state-funded programs like Medicaid.
Employers Are Prohibited From Retaliating Against Whistleblowers in California
Federal and state law offers broad protection to whistleblowers against retaliation. If you report illegal activity like discrimination or harassment, you are protected. Your employer may not take adverse employment action against you.
The following types of actions may be considered illegal retaliation against a whistleblower:
- Wrongful termination
- Pay reduction
- Being frozen out of projects or meetings
- Losing important responsibilities
- Hostile work environment
- Physical or verbal assault
- Losing bonuses and other benefits
- Losing access to superiors or coworkers
- Physical relocation
- Threats to turn an employee into ICE for making a labor complaint
- Failing to promote when warranted by merit
- Denial of resources needed to do your job
If you have suffered adverse employment action after blowing the whistle, our San Diego whistleblower lawyers are here to help you. You may be entitled to damages you have suffered for retaliation.
What Damages Are Available for Whistleblower Retaliation?
If your employer takes adverse employment action against you, you may be entitled to damages under San Diego employment law and whistleblower protection law.
Depending on the type of retaliation, you may be entitled to:
- Back pay
- Reinstatement to your former position or front pay
- Damages for defamation
- Injunctive relief to stop specific activities
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Punitive damages. These may be available in some cases to punish your employer for egregious conduct.
You are also entitled to your attorney’s fees and court costs.
An employee who reports illegal activity is doing a public service and protecting other employees. When you make the decision to blow the whistle, you should not have to worry about your job security, mental health, and retaliation.
If you do suffer adverse actions as a whistleblower, Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers is here to help. We will fight to hold your employer accountable and protect you under relevant whistleblower law.
Contact a San Diego Whistleblower Protection Lawyer for a Free Consultation
At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we understand that the decision to become a whistleblower is difficult. The fear of retaliation should not stop you from doing what you believe is right, and we are here to provide the legal support you need.
Contact Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego whistleblower protection lawyer who will help you take the next steps and protect your legal rights at every stage.