Our California whistleblower lawyers are based out of Oakland, California. They help California whistleblowers file claims under the available whistleblower incentive programs in California.
There are two main incentive programs in California for whistleblowers to come forward with original information:
- The California False Claims Act provides incentives for whistleblowers to come forward with information about companies that are defrauding the California state government, or a California government program (such as Medi-Cal). The California False Claims Act (CFCA) is similar to its federal counterpart, the False Claims Act, except that whistleblowers under the CFCA can receive awards of up to 50 percent of the recovered funds, whereas the upper limit for the federal False Claims Act is 35 percent of the funds recovered on behalf of the government. And similar to the federal whistleblower law, the CFCA is a qui tam law, which allows the whistleblower to bring a lawsuit in the name of the State of California.
- The California Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (CIFPA) is also a qui tam law, but it is special because it allows a whistleblower to bring a lawsuit against a person or company committing private insurance fraud. Most qui tam statutes only allow whistleblower lawsuits if a government insurance program is defrauded. But CIFPA allows a whistleblower to sue on behalf of the California Insurance Commissioner for private-insurance fraud. The whistleblower award under CIFPA is up to 50 percent of the funds recovered on behalf of the CA Insurance Commissioner.
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What are the main California whistleblower laws?
The two primary California whistleblower laws are the California False Claims Act and the California Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The former provides awards to California whistleblowers who provide information about fraud against a California government program, including Medi-Cal. The latter provides awards to Californians who blow the whistle on insurance fraud committed against private insurance companies.
California Whistleblower Protections
California law protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. The 2012 legislation signed by Jerry Brown expanded this protection to also shield whistleblowers from retaliation by anyone acting on behalf of their employers (such as a third-party contractor).
Employers are not allowed to:
- Adopt any policy which forbids employees from being whistleblowers
- Retaliate against an employee for being a whistleblower
- Retaliate against an employee for refusing to break the law yourself
Retaliation includes not only termination, but also refusing to promote, refusing to provide a raise, or relocating an employee to an unfavorable geographic region, all due to whistleblowing. Denying benefits or subjecting an employee to any detrimental conditions can also be considered retaliation.
California Whistleblower Retaliation Damage Awards
A whistleblower may be entitled to the following damages for retaliation by an employer:
- Whistleblowers who were fired may be entitled to reinstatement and back wages.
- If a whistleblower lost a promotion or raise due to whistleblowing activity, he or she may be entitled to the additional salary they would have earned had they received the promotion or raise.
- Regardless of the form the retaliation took, a whistleblower may be entitled to a civil penalty levied upon his or her employer of up to $10,000 per violation.