Are you in the process of filing an employment claim and have questions about how to win your whistleblower claim? Give us a call today!
Choosing an Attorney
Sometimes I’m asked, “What should I be looking for in an employment lawyer?” California labor and employment law is a unique and complex web of laws. You have various laws that lay over each other and interact with each other. You have issues regarding both union and non-union settings. You have issues with regard to workers’ comp issues. You have issues related to both federal and state law. Employment law in California isn’t easy.
It’s important when you’re looking for a law firm to find a law firm that specializes in employment law where lawyers have dedicated their practice to all things employment. It’s also important to find a firm that is ready and willing and has the resources to go head to head with some of the largest firms in the country and some of the deepest pockets of employers in the country. A firm should have the resources so that, if the employer’s headquarters is in Chicago, then we’re flying to Chicago. If the person that terminated you now lives in Florida, you need to have a law firm that’s willing to go to Florida.
It’s also important for you to find a law firm that has trial experience. It always surprises me how often people refer to themselves as civil litigators or trial attorneys when, truth be told, they’ve actually never argued in front of a jury. When you hire an attorney, it’s important to ask that attorney if they actually have trial experience because you might hire a firm not knowing whether or not they’ve got trial experience. The problem is the defense attorney knows whether or not your attorney has ever tried a case. The insurance carrier knows whether or not your attorney has ever tried a case.
When you’re looking at hiring a firm, it’s important that you find somebody that has the expertise in labor and employment law, that has the resources to fight for you, and that ultimately knows how to try a case. If I can answer any of those questions as to those three factors or any other factors in deciding what law firm you should take, I’m more than happy to discuss any of those factors.
We do a lot of cases involving what’s called whistleblower lawsuits. Those whistleblower lawsuits typically are employees that complain about either unlawful conduct – based on a federal, state, or local law – or unsafe conduct, where the employer is engaging in conduct that’s either unsafe to the employee or unsafe to the general public. Sometimes those complaints are known. Sometimes they’re written complaints, and sometimes those employees that make the written complaints put their name on it. Sometimes there are written or electronic complaints in which they’re anonymous. Both types of complaints are protected under California law.
With a written complaint, it’s a little bit easier because the employer knows who made the complaint. With an anonymous complaint, for the most part, you can still show that you were retaliated against because the employer believed you made the anonymous complaint. If an employer retaliated against you, either because they know you made a complaint, either internally or externally, or they believe you made an anonymous complaint, either internally or externally, it’s important for you to understand that you have the right not to be retaliated against.
I should also say that sometimes it doesn’t actually require an actual complaint. It could be an actual opposition or refusal to go along with what you believe is an unlawful scheme. You basically throw up your hands and say, “I’m not going to do that. It’s unsafe,” or “I’m not going to do that; it’s unlawful.” You actually don’t ever complain to a governmental agency or you don’t ever complain to HR or somebody that has the ability to investigate it; you simply say you’re not going to be a part of it.
While the laws are at times complex and not easy to understand, it’s important for you to understand that you do have rights under California law. If I can answer any of your questions regarding any issue at work, including whether or not your complaint should be anonymous or whether or not your complaint should have your name on it, or whether or not you’ve been retaliated against for making a complaint or for opposing what you believe is unlawful or unsafe conduct, feel free to give me a call. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Filing a Claim
I often talk to potential clients about the fact that they believe they’ve been subjected to retaliation for what they refer to as whistleblowing. Either they went to a governmental agency, complained internally, or refused to do something that they believe was unlawful or unsafe. As a result, they were being retaliated against. Sometimes those whistleblower claims involve termination. They blew the whistle or they opposed conduct and, before you know it, they lost their job. Sometimes they have been demoted, or sometimes they haven’t been promoted as a result of blowing the whistle.
If you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful retaliation for blowing the whistle, it’s important for you to talk to an attorney in a timely manner. The statutes have time limits as to when you can bring the claims, and also require you to go to governmental agencies and do what we call exhaust administrative remedies. As you go through that process, I do think it’s important that you have the advice of counsel to make sure what you’re putting in those documents is unlawful conduct.
Not all conduct that you engage in is protected. Employees have to show that they were retaliated against for complaining about unlawful conduct or refusing to go along with what’s called an unlawful scheme. If I can help you with that process, please just give me a call. I’m happy to discuss any of those issues with you.
Importance of an Attorney
As an attorney of 20 years, I think one of the most difficult areas of the law and employment and labor is the area that is commonly referred to as whistleblower litigation. In California there are various laws that protect whistleblowers. Some of the laws are very unique and cover specific conduct or specific employers. You might have a law that protects only hospital workers or people sitting in an education setting, or you might have a law that protects all employees in the state of California. Then you have laws that cover specific conduct only.
California has a lot of protection for employees. In order to assist you in identifying even what claims to bring, it’s important that you identify the conduct that you complained about, who you complained about it to, and what type of employer you have. In order to do that, I would encourage you to talk to an attorney that has expertise in labor and employment. It’s important that you find an attorney who has litigated whistleblower cases and has tried whistleblower cases. It’s one thing to file a claim under a whistleblower, and it’s another to also litigate it, but it’s completely different to actually try a whistleblower lawsuit. Whistleblower litigation in California has unique jury instructions, and it’s important for the attorneys to be aware of that throughout the entire litigation.
If you believe that you’ve been subject to unlawful conduct related to whistleblowing, either because you went to a governmental agency or you complained internally about what you believe is unlawful or unsafe conduct, I’d encourage you to reach out to an attorney that has expertise in that area. Always feel free to give me a call here at the office if you have any questions regarding why you might want to hire an attorney or what types of claims you might have.
Are you or a loved one in the process of filing an employment claim in California and have questions about how to win your whistleblower claim? Contact the experienced California employment law attorneys at the Myers Law Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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