What types of conduct/activities does California law protect private sector employees who claim retaliation or whistleblowing?

Lisa Sherman
California Labor & Employment Attorney

California has a general whistleblower protection statute that protects employees who disclose illegal activity or refuse to participate in illegal activities. Whistleblowers are thus protected under both this statute and the common law public policy exception. Also, several other California statutes contain anti-retaliation provisions. Employees who engage in protected activities (usually filing a complaint or testifying) under laws in the following subject areas are protected from retaliation: discrimination, hazardous substances, occupational safety and health, and workers' compensation. Also, California protects employees who file a complaint relating to employee rights with California’s Labor Commissioner. In addition to the above state protections, federal law provides workers with additional protections. Furthermore, a private contract or collective bargaining agreement may also protect employees from certain forms of retaliation.

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