What should I do if I have been fired for reporting my employer’s illegal activities?
An employee may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit if they are fired for complaining about their employer’s illegal conduct and not for some other, legitimate reason. Federal and California laws offer employees protection from retaliation when they participate in “legally protected activities” such as:
- Complaining about discrimination or sexual harassment
- Exercising their rights under wage and overtime laws
- Participating in investigations
- Protesting unsafe working conditions
- Reporting illegal conduct by the employer or its managers
The employee may have complained directly to the employer, its supervisors or human resources personnel, or government authorities such as the police or a regulatory agency. The employee does not have to be directly affected by the employer’s illegal activity. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting a claim about their illegal conduct even if the employee turns out to be wrong, as long as they acted in good faith.
To make a case for illegal retaliation, employees must prove the employer took action against them because they reported their employer’s illegal conduct. The employer must then prove it had a true, non-retaliatory reason for firing the employee. If the employer claims it had a legitimate reason for the termination, then the employee has to show the employer’s supposed reason for termination is false and just an excuse to cover up the retaliation.
McCormack & Erlich is a San Francisco law firm serving all of Northern California and specializing in the field of employment law. We have extensive expertise in helping people who have been wrongfully terminated and retaliated against recover their damages.