An Employer Cannot Retaliate Against an Employee For Filing a Police Report

Plaintiff Rosa Lee Cardenas, a dental hygienist, lost an expensive wedding ring in the workplace.  Suspecting that a coworker stole the ring, Ms. Cardenas wanted to file a police report.  However, her employer expressed his disapproval and requested that Ms. Cardenas not tell the police that she left the ring on the Gear-and-Gavel_goldbreakroom table at work.  Despite her employer’s objections, Ms. Cardenas filed a police report.  After the police came to the dental office on two occasions to investigate, Ms. Cardenas’ employer told her the situation was causing great tension and fired her.

Continue reading “An Employer Cannot Retaliate Against an Employee For Filing a Police Report”


The Good News: Supreme Court Expands Free Speech Protection in Lane v. Franks

In Lane v. Franks (June 19, 2014) No. 13-483, the Supreme Court of the United States provided further guidance regarding two important issues for government employees who blow the whistle.  First, the Court explained that speech that merely concerns the employee’s job duties, as opposed to being part of the Gear-and-Gavel_dark-blueemployee’s job duties, is protected under the First Amendment. Second, the Court clarified what a government employee must show in order to survive a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity.  (The qualified immunity issue will be discussed in a separate blog post that will follow shortly.) Continue reading “The Good News: Supreme Court Expands Free Speech Protection in Lane v. Franks”


U.S. Supreme Court Expands Whistleblower Protections

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX” or “the Act”) was enacted in the wake of the financial scandals that occurred in the nineteen-nineties and early aughts.  SOX was a response to the brazen behavior of companies like Enron that, in conjunction with their accounting firms, engaged in massive fraud to inflate their Gear-and-Gavel_dark-bluesupposed value.  When these companies later filed for bankruptcy, their shareholders and workers lost billions of dollars.  Subsequent criminal convictions of scoundrels like Kenneth Lay did little to comfort those who lost large portions of their pensions.

Among other things, SOX was written so as to protect whistleblowers-people who report unlawful or dishonest behavior-at publicly traded companies.  Section 1514A of the Act protects such whistleblowers from demotion, harassment, and termination, among other things:

No [public company]…or any officer, employee, contractor, subcontractor, or agent of such company, may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any other manner discriminate against an employee…because of [whistleblowing or other similar activity]

Note that Section 1514A includes not only officers and employees:  It also includes contractors and subcontractors of such companies.  This language therefore raises the question:  Does Section 1514A protect workers at privately held companies that contract with publicly held companies?  (This is a fair question.  The title of SOX, after all, is “Whistleblower Protection for Employees of Publicly Traded Companies.”  It does not mention anything about contractors or subcontractors.) Continue reading “U.S. Supreme Court Expands Whistleblower Protections”


Expanded Protection for Whistleblowers: California Labor Code Section 1102.5 

Whistleblowers are people who speak out about what their employers are doing-either by complaining to the government or by complaining to someone at their company.  California Labor Code section 1102.5 is generally known as the “whistleblower law. “  For thirty years, Section 1102.5 has protected workers who reportGear-and-Gavel_dark-blue illegal conduct.

In late 2013, Section 1102.5 was amended in several important ways.  Each of these amendments expanded the protections that are available to people who complain about conduct in their workplace.  Three of these amendments are described below. Continue reading “Expanded Protection for Whistleblowers: California Labor Code Section 1102.5 “