Former President Abraham Lincoln signed the False Claims Act into law in 1863. He is said to have wanted to encourage people to report fraud against the U.S. government. Individuals who submit information to authorities or company officials regarding corporate wrongdoing are colloquially known as “whistleblowers,” and while Lincoln died well over a century ago, the protection he set forth for those in California and other states who report unethical or illegal activity in the workplace still exists.
In recent years, many whistleblower reports have involved the health care industry, as well as military contractors and organizations that have committed tax law violations. Companies dumping toxic waste, or contractors selling faulty equipment, are other issues that are examples of situations a whistleblower might report. Many people hesitate to tell what they know for fear that they will lose their jobs or that their employers will otherwise retaliate against them.
In addition to the False Claims Act, other laws have been signed to protect whistleblowers from unfair treatment in the workplace. If an employee believes he or she has been fired or has suffered retaliation after reporting illegal or unethical acts by company officials, that employee may file a complaint through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Even if a worker’s belief of illicit activity is later proved inaccurate, he or she is still protected from retaliation.
There are time limitations as to when a retaliation complaint must be filed. Whistleblowers who have questions or concerns regarding current situations in their workplaces may reach out for legal support at any time. An experienced California employment law attorney can provide guidance and support to concerned workers in this state.