Since 1993, Karl Gerber, of The Employment Lawyers Group has represented hundreds of California whistle blowers in lawsuits against their employers.
Legally, in order to be called a whistle blower:
• the employee must complain about something that is illegal, or they reasonably suspect is illegal;
• the illegal conduct must effect society at large opposed to merely being an internal issue in the company;
• the complaint must be made to a supervisor, manager, or owner if it was not made to a government organization and supervisors or managers in the company are aware of the complaint;
• the employer must take an adverse employment action against the employee due to the complaint.
The following types of complaints to the employer’s management are complaints about violations of the law that create wrongful termination and make an employee a whistle blower:
• An actual report to a government agency (the employer must learn of)
• A complaint that a statute is being violated
• A complaint about any form of discrimination or harassment based upon age, disability, protected medical condition, national origin, race, or sexual orientation
• A refusal to engage in the employer’s unlawful or unhealthy work requests
• A refusal to testify falsely
• A refusal to refrain from using a leave of absence law created by a statutory right
• Firing an employee because they took a legally authorized leave of absence (medical, military)
Firing an employee due to their filing of a workers compensation claim, or the existence of a work injury does not automatically create wrongful termination in the civil court system. If the injury results in a disability that can be accommodated, or the employee qualifies for Family Medical Leave there might be a wrongful termination case. This is a tricky area of the law in which our experienced employee attorneys can advise whether there is a case for 132a retaliation under the workers compensation system and/or an additional civil lawsuit for wrongful termination.
It is one thing to be a whistle blower. It is another to have a case. If the employer knows of the whistle blowing in order for there to be a case there must be an adverse employment action taken towards the employee
to talk to an Experienced California Whistleblower Law Firm
In the real world of contingency lawyers, and courts an employee needs to actually be fired or forced to quit for there to be a case against an employer due to the employee’s whistle blowing. Courts have been limited in what they consider to be an adverse employment action. Unless there is a substantial, material change in the employment there is not an adverse employment action. Beliefs the whistle blower is being looked at differently, or allegedly is being treated differently is simply not enough for a lawyer to file a case for retaliation. The likelihood in the court allowing a retaliation lawsuit to go forward is low if there is not a loss of a job or a change in employment costing the employee a substantial sum of money. Courts and arbitrators have even held that making an employee work in a small storage room is not an adverse employment action if they are continuing to be paid the same salary they received before the alleged adverse action based. Another court held making somebody clean the bathroom and sweep the parking lot was not substantial enough to be retaliation which is also a word with precise legal meaning.
It is important to understand contingency fee lawyers are not available for general human resource advice. Moreover, courts are not available for employees to air general workplace grievances of unfair treatment that do not result in the loss of a job. There are repercussions of filing cases that cannot be won and are not cases. Employees need to be mindful there is not a legal remedy for everything that happens at work.
Presuming an employee has engaged in protected activity and properly made these issues known to the employer a wrongful termination lawsuit exists if the employee is fired due to these complaints, or forced to quit. The legal standard regarding being forced to quit is not easy. The working conditions must be intolerable. After advising the employer of the intolerability the employer must refuse to stop the intolerability.
Before quitting a job employees are strongly advised to call 877-525-0700 to determine if they are going about their resignation in a manner that will allow them to quit and sue and/or collect unemployment.
Good wrongful termination lawsuits involve employment terminations that were not going to happen had it not been for the whistle blowing. Friction between supervisors and managers after the complaint is evidence the employment termination may have been due to the whistle blowing. The employer’s refusal to agree that patently illegal conduct is illegal may be evidence of motive to terminate. Moreover, the employer’s acknowledgment the complained of conduct is dubious but continues to request the company engage in the conduct is evidence the complaining trouble maker may have been fired for complaining.
Wrongful termination is difficult if not unlikely to prove if:
• The employee complains, the employer indicates the employee is justified in the complaint, and it appears the employer is trying to stop the illegal practice
• It cannot be proven the employer knew of the employee’s complaint about an illegality
• The conduct complained about is not illegal
• The employee did not have a reasonable suspicion the conduct they complained about was illegal
The Employment Lawyers Group has obtained the following case results for whistle blowers:
$500,000 for a whistle blower who complained of illegal manufacturing processes
$300,000 for employees who complained the college they worked for was engaged in fraud
$232,000 won binding arbitration award for a man who complained about sexual harassment and was fired
$195,000 for an oil field worker who complained of safety issues
Larger and smaller case results exist. These are merely a few examples of case results which are not a guarantee nor prediction of future outcome. Wrongful termination settlement and verdict values depend on the amount of lost wages of the employee, emotional injury, the existence of punitive damages, and the employer’s ability to pay.
Wrongful termination and whistle blowing have precise legal meanings.
Employees are strongly encouraged to call 877-525-0700 if they believe they were fired or forced to quit due to whistle blowing.
Let our experienced whistle blower lawyers ask the right questions of you to determine if you have a wrongful termination case against your employer.