Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

You, or any individual “blows the whistle” when they disclose information that relates to suspected wrongdoing at their workplace, or dangers to employees (or others) that are not being addressed. Whistleblowing concerns, most of the time, relate to the conduct of managers or staff but they may sometimes relate to the actions of a third party, such as a customer, supplier, or service provider.

You might have already gone to your companies’ human resources department but have not gotten any satisfaction or any material changes instituted. You, as the “Whistleblower” put your job, reputation, and sometimes even your physical well-being on the line to report fraud, criminal violations, or threats to the environment and public safety.

To help reduce the risk that you’ve incurred, there are ten things, as a whistleblower, you need to know, they are:

1. Fully know about your rights before you blow the whistle – Know that there is no universal whistleblower law. Only a California whistleblower protection lawyer will have all the current facts you need.

2. Don’t believe stereotypes about Whistleblowers – Contrary to claims that whistleblowers are often highly respected by those charged with enforcing these rules and laws, very often this idea is far from the truth. Know what you are getting into!

3. Just because you are doing what is “right” does not mean you will win – Work with your whistleblower lawyer and find the most applicable laws for you and make sure you follow them.

4. Consider remaining confidential – Being a confidential or anonymous whistleblower may offer you the best protection possible. Your lawyer will know the most current whistleblower laws and they will provide you with excellent procedures for protecting your identity.

5. Qualify for a reward – The most effective whistleblower laws both provide on-the-job protection against retaliation and may even provide a monetary reward if your information obtains successful results.

6. Always pay attention to deadlines – All whistleblower laws have statutes of limitations, and your lawyer will know them well. Any delay may negatively affect your case and your rights.

7. Don’t ever break the law – You could lose your case or be convicted of a crime if you have illegally disclosed confidential information in violation of the law. There are always legal means to blow the whistle without losing your freedom or suffering penalties.

8. You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen – the most effective whistleblower laws have transnational applications. Citizens from foreign countries who have exposed fraud or bribery outside the United States have obtained millions in rewards.

9. Don’t ever rely on outdated information – Whistleblower laws have changed greatly over the last 30 years, and the current laws have extraordinary provisions for protecting and rewarding whistleblowers. Never try this alone, and your whistleblower protection lawyer will know the current and most powerful laws available

10. Yes – you can win – If you, and your lawyer navigate these laws carefully, you (as the whistleblower) can become the most important source of information for prosecutors working to detect fraud and other crimes. Whistleblowers have triggered the most successful prosecutions in every industry including Medicare, Medicaid, private industry, and many more. Listen to your lawyer and learn how to disclose the crime adequately so you can secure a reward while helping to defeat corruption!

What Are the Most Common Three Steps in the Whistleblower Process?

Be aware that legally your case is unique and needs to be approached that way. There are some common steps though, and they usually are:

Step 1 – Get the evidence organized – This is the most important step in your whistleblower claim and one which your San Francisco whistleblower lawyer will be vital in doing.

Step 2 – Presenting the Evidence – All evidence must be presented in a detailed, rational, and professional manner. This will help the courts see your points and accusations clearly and guide them to the most successful outcome.

Step 3 – Government Investigation – The State, and possible Federal Government may get involved and if they do your lawyer can act as your liaison and keep you apprised on all the pertinent facts.

Step 4 – The Decision – If all the above are followed, then you will have the best chance possible and be the instigator of meaningful change and possibly getting a monetary reward. Get the help you need and consult with a San Francisco or Oakland whistleblower protection lawyer, and assure the best results possible.

How Do I Know If I am Being Retaliated Against, After I File My Case?

In many companies today, supervisors, human resources, and other employees do receive education on exactly what may be employer retaliation. This is done so that the incident can be investigated thoroughly and determine if an employee is experiencing workplace retaliation and why.

Some of the most common actions by a company, or supervisor that the EEOC considers workplace retaliation are:

  • Barring you, as the employee, from attending meetings or other events the business hosts.
  • Transferring you to a different department or work location.
  • Withholding you from a raise or promotion that you normally would get.
  • Providing you with a negative performance review, that may be uncalled for.
  • Making your work environment feel unsafe or uncomfortable for you to work in.
  • Limiting the number of hours that you may work.

What Are Some Advantages or Drawbacks of Whistleblowing?

First, doing the “right” thing is always a benefit to you and your fellow employees. Don’t expect however to always be envisioned as the “hero” of your cause.

Some of the things that can occur are:

  • Drawback #1: You’ll be labeled in your job or profession.
  • Reward #1: You can sleep at night.
  • Drawback #2: You may face retaliation from your company and others.
  • Reward #2: You’ll empower other honest people to come forward.
  • Drawback #3: Your finances (and maybe your sanity) will come under fire.
  • Reward #3: The law should make you whole — and you might get a financial windfall.

Again, don’t fight this alone. Consult with a California law firm that is experienced in these cases, and you’ll know the facts you need to confidently move forward.

I Am Going to File a Whistleblower Lawsuit, What Should I do First?

If you’re going to file a whistleblower suit then, most importantly, get the best professional advice you can. These are complex cases, but whistleblower protection lawyers, such as Geonetta & Furcht, LLP, in Oakland and San Francisco will fight hard for your protection and your rights. Gather all the details you can and obtain a consultation on your case. Your career and your family’s future may depend upon what happens next.

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.