Whistleblowers are protected in California. State public policy encourages employees to report violations, testify in hearings and inquiries, and participate in investigations when they have reason to believe that employers are violating federal or state statutes or local, state, or federal rules and regulations. In fact, the State Attorney General’s Office has set up a whistleblower hotline, and they will refer your call to the appropriate government authority for review and/or investigation. 

Employers are prohibited from retaliating when employees file complaints for workplace harassment or discrimination. They may not subject an employee to adverse employment actions that affect the terms and conditions of the employee’s job because the employee opposed a practice prohibited under California law. Retaliation for an employee’s refusal to participate in an illegal activity is also prohibited under state law. 

If you have been subjected to retaliation for whistleblowing, you need an experienced employment attorney to help protect your rights. At the Law Office of Michael Hsueh, we have focused our practice exclusively on representing employees in employment law matters. You can have confidence that your whistleblower retaliation claim is in good hands with Michael Hsueh. 


Under California law, a whistleblower is an employee who discloses information to certain parties when the employee has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of a state or federal statute, a violation or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, or unsafe working conditions or practices have occurred in the workplace. The definition of a whistleblower also includes employees who refuse to participate in activities that violate state or federal laws or local, state, or federal rules and regulations.

A whistleblower discloses information to a law enforcement or government agency, a supervisor, or another employee who has the authority to discover, investigate, or correct the noncompliance or violation. A whistleblower may also testify before – or provide information to – a public body conducting an inquiry, hearing, or investigation. 


Whistleblowers are a protected class under the California Labor Code, and the law provides whistleblowers with specific protections. Under state law, employers may not:

  • Make, adopt, or enforce any policy, rule, or regulation that prevents employees from being whistleblowers;
  • Retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower;
  • Retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of any state or federal statute or would be in noncompliance with any state or federal rules or regulations; or
  • Retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her whistleblower rights in the past in a former job.

An employer who retaliates against a whistleblower may be required to pay lost wages, reinstate the employee’s employment and benefits, and take other actions under the law.

Before 2014, California law protected employees who reported reasonably suspected violations of state and federal laws to government agencies from retaliation by employers. In 2014, the law was expanded to protect whistleblowers who report to supervisors or other employees with the authority to discover, investigate, or correct, or to a public body conducting a hearing, inquiry, or investigation. Changes in the law also impose liability for retaliation against a whistleblower by any person acting on behalf of an employer. 

Whistleblower protection applies under state law whether or not reporting the information is part of the employee’s regular job duties. For example, a compliance officer, whose duties include ensuring that the company complies with regulations and reporting violations, would still be protected as a whistleblower under California law. 


If you have been retaliated against for whistleblowing in California, the law is on your side. Contact a knowledgeable employment lawyer as soon as possible to find out what remedies may be available to you under the law.

At the Law Office of Michael Hsueh, our practice is dedicated to helping people like you. We focus exclusively on representing employees and protecting their rights under state and federal law. If your rights have been violated by your employer, we want to help.

We serve the Silicon Valley and Greater San Francisco Bay Area, with offices conveniently located in San Jose. Contact us online or by phone to arrange for a free case consultation with no obligation. Attorney Michael Hsueh can inform you of your legal options and tell you what damages you may be entitled to claim.