Do You Need Whistleblower Legal Representation in Los Angeles?
If you find yourself working for an employer who may be committing illegal acts, you will not only be stunned, but also have a critical decision to make. While you can turn your head and look the other way, you could also let others know what is going on and file a formal complaint against your employer with the appropriate regulatory agency. When you do this, you will be referred to as a "whistleblower." While many whistleblowers are afraid to do so, the good news is that you will be protected by various state and federal laws. If you are considering filing a whistleblower complaint, always make sure you first consult with a whistleblower attorney in Los Angeles employees trust from the Law Offices of Mann Elias.
Whistleblower in Los Angeles
As a whistleblower in Los Angeles, you will have the protection of various laws working in your favor. One of these is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which is considered federal law and protects you against interference from an employer or another party once you file your complaint. Under the provisions of the act, a person who is deemed to interfere with the employment or livelihood of a whistleblower can face a fine of as much as $250,000 and even 10 years in prison. If you have had your livelihood threatened due to retaliation against your whistleblower complaint, contact our team to learn about your rights as an employee.
Whistleblower Protection Act
Once you file a whistleblower complaint, you will qualify for protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act. This law was passed to protect those that disclosed the illegal acts of their superiors. However, it is important to remember that to do so, your complaint must have been filed correctly with the proper authorities, such as law enforcement or a government regulatory agency. The WPA offered whistleblowers better cover by:
- Clarifying the procedure that whistleblowers would follow to disclose illegal acts and retaliation
- Separating the Office of Special Counsel from that of the Merits Systems Protection Board. The OSC would be dedicated to receiving disclosures, investigating retaliation claims and representing whistleblowers
Your employer has no right to retaliate against you by means of demotion, firing, suspension, or other similar acts. If this has taken place against you, never let it go unchecked. Instead, turn to a specialized lawyer for legal advice. This article provides information about how to report your employer for abuse of power, violations, mismanagement or other unlawful acts.
Can A Whistleblower Remain Anonymous?
Additionally, whistleblowers have concerns about whether or not they can remain anonymous. The best way to avoid retaliation from your boss, or company is to secure confidentiality in exchange for providing information. Depending on what you are reporting, a majority of courts and accompanying laws that recognize the right to anonymity. You risk exposure if you use company owned or company issued technology. However, for full coverage, hire legal counsel. Attorney-client privilege protects the information you discuss while going through the process. You can find more information about this here.
How To File A Whistleblower Complaint
If you are considering filing a whistleblower complaint against your employer and company, the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act offers a plethora of protection laws for employees that report unlawful actions. Though each law has an accompanying deadline to act, which you can learn more about here. A complaint must have confirmed evidence of an employer’s wrongful actions. You can submit a report in four different ways:Online
This is by far the most popular means of reporting a complaint. It allows you to submit the information directly to OSHA via a complaint form.Email/Mail/Fax
If you are not comfortable submitting the information online, you can do so via mail. This includes traditional post mail, fax, and email. You will need to describe the complaint and submit an online Whistleblower Complaint Form. This form can be found online or at your local OSHA office.Telephone
If you would rather speak to an OSHA representative about the situation, then you can do so. Simply call up your local OSHA regional office. They will listen to your complaint and ask any necessary questions.In Person
Lastly, if you would feel more comfortable talking to someone face-to-face, you can do so via your local OSHA office. You may need to call ahead of time to schedule an appointment. It is best to give them a call before heading in to ensure they will be ready to take your complaint.
What To Expect During A Whistleblower Investigation
Prior to starting an investigation, the OSHA whistleblower investigator will notify the whistleblower, respondent, and federal partner. Keep in mind that company property, like laptops and phone records, can risk your anonymity if you request confidentiality. If you want to protect your identity, try to file a report on your personal computer at home.
Following notification, they will do a deep review of current and newly uncovered evidence. The OSHA investigator will interview your employer, witnesses, and anyone else you mentioned in your complaint and/or interview. You should comply with all of OSHA’s requests when participating in the investigation. At some point you will be asked to provide a written position statement of the allegations.
When the investigation is complete, OSHA will provide both the parties with a documented record of the complaint. At this point, the investigation can take some time.
Dos and Don’ts for Whistleblowers
For detailed information regarding what to do and avoid during the whistleblower investigation, this article is a great resource. As an informant, you will be protected by local and federal governments depending on what you report and if it's lawfully covered. You are providing vital information to law enforcement and helping them uncover illegal practices and crimes at a corporate, business, or functional level. Though, prior to and during an investigation remain cautious when carrying out your responsibilities as an employee. We review helpful information whistleblowers should observe, including:
- Take safe precautions
- Do not take matters into your hands
- Wait until you have all the facts
- Consult other whistleblowers
- Have a strong support network
- Keep a record of formal reports
- Have a strong moral compass
Additionally, our article, Ten Things Every Whistleblower Should Know, is another helpful tool if you are thinking about becoming a whistleblower.
In some situations, you may be confused as to whether or not you are entitled to whistleblower protection. This often happens when an employee files a complaint of sexual harassment within their workplace. While this is not officially a whistleblower complaint, you will likely be protected from retaliation thanks to other types of public policy and other related laws. Due to these protections, you cannot be wrongfully terminated for reporting such behavior. If you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer over a situation such as this or one related to whistleblowing, always make sure you contact an experienced attorney that will fight hard for their rights, such as the Law Offices of Mann Elias.
What if I Am Wrong about My Complaint?
When you are considering the possibility of filing a whistleblower complaint, you may be concerned about what will happen if it turns out you are wrong about your suspicions. While this is certainly a valid concern, you can relax knowing protections will still be in place even if you are wrong. However, they may not apply if your complaint is considered to be anything related only to your personal dislikes regarding your employer. If this occurs, whistleblower protection usually provided under state and federal law may not apply. Therefore, it will be crucial your complaint be strictly about violations of laws, regulations, or ordinances. If there is any question as to the nature of your complaint, contact our expert attorneys.
Damages and Compensation
When you have filed a whistleblower complaint and have been illegally retaliated against, you should never let these actions go without being punished. Once you consult with an experienced employment lawyer in Los Angeles, you will discover there are many types of damages for which you should seek compensation. Two of the most common include emotional distress and punitive damages, which should always be discussed at length with your attorney. In California, there is usually no cap on the amount of punitive damages plaintiffs can be awarded, so always make sure you have a legal strategy that will ultimately pay off in the end.
Understanding the Laws
Contrary to what many whistleblowers believe, it is not the federal government that has the toughest laws pertaining to whistleblower protection. Instead, it is the state. In fact, federal law mandates only the minimum protections to which states must abide by in these cases. As a result, states have the freedom to create new laws or expand upon existing laws, which ultimately could have a great impact on how your case plays out. Due to the numerous complexities that are always involved in these cases, it is best that you consult with an attorney.
12 FAQ’s About Whistleblowing and Retaliation
Retaliation is hostile action employers engage in with employees to dissuade prospective whistleblowers from raising concerns about violations or suspicious activity. It can have a negative impact on your health, the company culture you experience and cost you your job. Whether subtle or overtly direct, it is the reason why so many violations or dangers go unreported.
Employees are dependent on their job for health insurance and stable income. Many, if not most laws are designed to protect you and make employer retaliation illegal. If you have any questions or concerns, refer to our article: 12 FAQ’s About Whistleblowing and Retaliation. We strive to provide you with insight to help you build an accurate case and avoid the negative impact it may result in.
If you were treated unfairly for reporting a violation of the law, make sure to have evidence that proves your employer knew you engaged in protected activity to testify, and you suffered through adverse employment actions because of it.
Always Seek Advice First
When you come to the realization that your employer may be committing illegal acts, you may be eager to blow the whistle immediately. However, if you do so before knowing exactly what to do, crucial mistakes could be made. Therefore, you should always seek the advice of an experienced lawyer clients trust from the Law Offices of Mann & Elias Law before beginning any whistleblower complaint.
If you are dealing with the ramifications of unfair retaliation by your employer due to a whistleblower complaint, hold your employer accountable for their illegal actions toward you by consulting with knowledgeable whistleblower legal representation.