If you are like many people, you’re wondering whether your employer can fire you for talking to investigators after a whistleblower’s complaint. Can an employer take away your benefits, cut your hours, reduce your pay or limit your access to benefits? This guide explains.
Can Your Employer Fire You for Talking to Investigators?
Employers in the state of California are not allowed to retaliate against people who cooperate with investigators. That’s true whether the investigators are police, federal agents, workers from OSHA, or any other officials. In fact, laws exist to prevent employers from retaliating against their workers in situations such as these.
However, just because it’s unlawful for employers to retaliate doesn’t mean that some don’t do it anyway. Unfortunately, many employers don’t take too kindly to their dirty laundry being aired. In some cases, employers fire workers, demote workers or create inhospitable work environments after and employee cooperates with investigators.
What to Do if Your Employer is Retaliating Against You for Talking to Investigators
If your employer is retaliating against you for talking to investigators, the first thing you should do is gather documentation. Pull together as much as you can that relates to your case. For example, if your employer has fired you, make sure you have all the details right; you’ll need to know when your employer fired you, what was said and the circumstances surrounding your dismissal. You may need this information to take your employer to court later, so it’s very important that you get it right. Document everything you can about the type of retaliation you have experienced. You may also want to create a list of people who can testify on your behalf.
Whether or not your employer has fired you, your next step may be to talk to a workplace rights lawyer. Your attorney will ask you several questions, including:
- What type of report was filed or complaint was made?
- Why do you believe your employer retaliated against you?
- What type of actions did your employer take to retaliate against you?
- Did your employer retaliate against anyone else who participated in the same investigation?
- Has your employer fired people in the past, or otherwise retaliated against them, for participating in investigations?
- Has your employer been in trouble before?
- What type of documentation do you have that proves your case?
- Do you know anyone who may be able to testify on your behalf?
- What type of compensation are you hoping to receive? Would you like your job back, to be reinstated to your former position, or for other benefits to be restored?
- How would you like to see your case play out? Are you willing to go to court?
- Have you taken your concerns to a supervisor at work?
- Have you spoken to your company’s HR department about this situation?
Your answers to these questions, as well as any other questions your attorney asks you, will affect the planning your lawyer does for your case. In some cases, even when it seems like an employer is retaliating against an employee, it’s tough to prove. Unfortunately, in cases like those, it’s very difficult to win. You must have proved that your employer retaliated against you in order to win a case against it.
When Can You Sue Your Employer for Retaliation?
Often, workers are eligible to sue their employers for wrongful termination and for the loss of other benefits in relation to retaliation. For example, if your employer wrongfully fires you (that is, terminates your employment for an illegal reason) you may be able to take it to court. If your attorney can prove that you were wrongfully terminated, you could be entitled to financial compensation, the restoration of your job, back pay and front pay, and a number of other awards. However, there’s no way to predict how a judge will rule; it’s always best to speak with an attorney about your specific situation.
Related: Workers’ rights in California
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Being Fired in Retaliation?
If you believe your employer retaliated begins to for talking to investigators, or for otherwise cooperating in an investigation, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 818-230-8380-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule your completely free consultation with an experienced attorney now.