Chris Olsen: Your Whistleblower Retaliation Attorney

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Federal and state law seeks to protect citizens from being unjustly targeted as a result of efforts to uphold public policy. An employee should not fear retaliation from his or her employer for reporting safety violations or illegal activity. Sometimes referred to as a “whistleblower,” an employee who reports unethical conduct or fraudulent practices in the workplace is legally protected from termination and other forms of discrimination. If you believe you have been unfairly terminated, whistleblower retaliation attorney Chris Olsen can fight for justice on your behalf. Contact our San Diego, CA, practice to schedule a free consultation.

What is a Whistleblower?

There are many laws and regulations that govern employers, including wage and hour labor laws and standards upheld by the Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA). If you bring a potential violation to the attention of an employer, whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation, even if you make an official charge that is later determined to be unfounded.

Federal law, the California Labor Code, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint against the company. Whistleblowing activities include reporting another employee’s illegal or unethical conduct, voicing concerns about racial discrimination or sexual harassment, testifying on behalf of someone else’s complaint, or reporting fraudulent practices in the work environment.

In fact, federal whistleblower statutes offer financial rewards and protection to people who reveal certain types of fraud. In some cases, a whistleblower can receive a percentage of any funds recovered by the government. Millions have been paid to whistleblowers who file “Qui Tam” lawsuits against a company for fraudulent activities that effect the federal government.

Protected Activities

There are several types of activities that are protected under whistleblower laws, which vary from state to state. In some cases, protection can begin as soon as management believed the employee could be a witness in a future legal proceeding. The main forms of protected activity are divided into four categories: reporting, filing, testifying, and opposing.

Choosing an attorney like Chris Olsen, who knows how to navigate the complicated federal and state laws that affect whistleblowers, can ensure you collect the compensation you deserve.

Reporting includes making any sort of complaint about an alleged violation to law enforcement, a government agency, the employer, or the media. Filing refers to initiating a lawsuit or another form of legal proceeding. Testifying is protected whether you initiated the lawsuit or not. It encompasses any verbal statement provided as part of a legal proceeding. The final category, opposing, includes refusing to perform a task or participate in an activity that you reasonably believe is illegal.

Not all forms of whistleblowing activities are protected and your level of protection will depend on the whistleblowing laws that apply to your case. Building a strong case requires an extensive understanding of the whistleblowing protection laws. Choosing an attorney like Chris Olsen, who knows how to navigate the complicated federal and state laws that affect whistleblowers, can ensure you collect the compensation you deserve.

Retaliation and Harassment

Workplace retaliation for whistleblowing can take many forms. An employee may receive a demotion or reduction in pay under a false pretense, or become the victim of daily harassment by management or co-workers. Harassment can take the form of sudden undue criticism and scrutiny of an employee’s work, sometimes accompanied by official negative write-ups. In some cases, the employee may be terminated.

Proving Retaliation

In order to prove that actions were taken against you due to a protected activity, you must typically demonstrate:

  • Engagement in a protected activity
  • That your employer knew about said protected activity
  • Suffering caused by adverse employment action
  • Connection between your protected activity and the adverse action(s)

In most cases, a whistleblower only needs to prove that the protected activity they undertook was a contributing factor, meaning it played some role in the adverse action. Often, proving a decision-maker knew about the protected activity within a certain time period of the adverse action is sufficient to demonstrate causation. It then becomes the responsibility of the employer to provide convincing evidence that the adverse action was unrelated to the protected activity.

Type of Damages

You may be eligible for several types of damages when pursuing a whistleblower retaliation case. Some of the common forms of whistleblower compensation include:

  • Back pay: the amount of money you would have earned if retaliation had not occurred.
  • Front pay: the amount of money you would have earned in the future had retaliation not occurred.
  • Compensatory damages: an amount of money to restore you to your state before the retaliation occurred. This may include payment for pain and suffering, injury to your reputation, or anxiety you have experienced or will experience. 
  • Liquidated damages: an award of money intended to punish your employer for violating your rights and deter them from repeating the activity. This may involve doubling the back pay you receive.

Deadlines to file a whistleblower retaliation grievance are sometimes surprisingly short, especially if you are in a union. You may need to file within days of adverse action, depending on your employer and what type of action you experience.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help

If you find yourself in a whistleblower position, the first thing you need is legal advice. Chris Olsen is an employment law attorney who understands the law pertaining to whistleblowing and retaliation. He knows the tactics employers take to attempt to shield evidence and avoid consequences.

If you are a victim of workplace retaliation, you deserve compensation. Chris Olsen has negotiated many settlements for clients and taken cases to trial against large companies, with damage awards amounting to millions.

Schedule a Free Consultation

If you think you may have a whistleblower case, wrongful termination case, or other employment law case, contact attorney Chris Olsen today to schedule a free consultation. You may send us a message online, or call us at (619) 550-9352. These cases can be very complex, and the surest way to protect your best interests is to enlist the representation of a knowledgeable attorney.

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