California: Whistleblower Protections Expanded


All Employers with CA Employees


May 22, 2023



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Quick Look

  • Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation regardless of whether the employer or agency already know about the alleged violation.


In People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc., the California Supreme Court said that employers can be liable for retaliating against whistleblowing employees, even if the alleged violation is not new to the employer or agency to which it is reported. California prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowing employees for disclosing information about suspected violations of law. Previously, “disclosure” was interpreted to mean a new violation that the employer or agency did not already know about. However, the Court determined that the protection applies regardless of whether the employer or agency already knows about the alleged violation.

Here, an employee informed the employer of unpaid wages; the employer then terminated the employee in response. The lower courts said there was no whistleblower protection because the employer already knew that it had not paid the employee’s wages. However, the California Supreme Court said that a “disclosure” can occur “without regard to whether the recipient already knew of the violation.” This interpretation is consistent with the federal Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which says that an employee’s whistleblowing disclosure is protected even if the violation is already known.

Action Items

  1. Have appropriate personnel trained on whistleblowing procedures and employee protections.
  2. Review adverse employment action against whistleblowing employees with legal counsel.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2023 ManagEase