California's False Claims Act and Whistleblower Protection

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What is a Whistleblower Law?

A whistleblower law provides protections for employees who wish to report any misconduct committed by their employer. Usually such laws create reporting procedures for the organization, and they also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who file complaints.

Does California have a Whistleblower Law?

Yes. California has its own version of the False Claims Act. False Claims acts allow a person to report employers who have submitted to the government false reports or fraudulent information of any kind. Oftentimes the person who brought the claim and provided inside information can receive a share of the proceeds in court.    

Section 12653 of the California False Claims Act prohibits employers from retaliating against their employees who have disclosed information to the government. Employees may not fire, threaten, demote, harass, or deny a promotion to any informant employee. 

What do I do if I want to Report My California Employer or if they have Retaliated Against Me?

Your first step will be to report within the company itself. Organizations are now required by law to provide employees with procedural processes for reporting misconduct. If the situation is not resolved internally, or if the employer retaliates against you, you usually cannot file a lawsuit immediately. 

Your next course of action would be to file your complaints with a administrative law government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Only after such an agency has reviewed your case and failed to reach a settlement can you file in a court of law.

Sometimes, however, if the agency is overbooked with cases, they can issue a “right to sue letter”, which grants the employee a right to file suit earlier.

Do I need a Lawyer to Handle My Case?

You may want to contact a lawyer at the very beginning of your situation, even before you have filed a complaint within your company. An attorney will be able to help you sort out the facts and details of any wrongdoing that your employer may have committed. As you can see, the process for filling a complaint involves many steps, and a qualified California lawyer can assist you in making sure that you are protected and receive relief. 

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Last Modified: 02-20-2013 11:31 AM PST

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