Do I have a claim for whistleblower retaliation?

Collier V. Superior Court

In Collier v. Superior Court, (1991) 228 Cal. App. 3d 1117, the plaintiff suspected co-workers were engaging in illegal activity on the job, including activities that violate laws against bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement, tax evasion, and possibly drug trafficking and money laundering. Id. at 1122.

The plaintiff reported his suspicions to management on at least three occasions. Shortly after his third report, the plaintiff was terminated for allegedly failing to adequately perform his job. Id. at 1121. The Court concluded that an employee who is terminated in retaliation for reporting to his or her employer reasonably suspected illegal conduct by other employees that harms the public as well as the employer, has a cause of action for wrongful discharge. Id. at 1119.

Applying the court’s decision in Collier, The Rubin Law Corporation obtained a settlement for a client who had been terminated after reporting to his superiors’ multiple violations of the California Labor Code within one of the branches.

Our client, an employee in the corporate office, had learned that employees in at least one branch were not receiving proper meal and rest breaks, were encouraged to work off the clock, and time sheets had been falsified to avoid paying overtime, among other violations.

He reported the violations to upper management and after continuing to insist that the unlawful practices end, he was terminated allegedly because he could not get along with co-workers. Shortly after his termination, he consulted with our office, and prior to trial, our client received compensation for his damages. Our client’s case exemplifies just one of many situations where Collier applies.