Oakland Whistleblower Lawyer

Protecting workers who speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace

Witnessing wrongdoing at your workplace can be a heavy burden. Whether it is unlawful treatment of colleagues, wage theft or safety hazards, speaking up about misconduct can feel like a career-ending risk. But what if there was a way to be the voice for justice within your company, all while protecting your employment rights?

At Erlich Law Firm, we understand the immense pressure the threat of an employer’s retaliation can have on a worker. Blowing the whistle should not threaten your livelihood. Our dedicated Oakland whistleblower lawyers are ready to provide you with guidance throughout your whistleblower case. We will help you navigate the legal complexities, ensuring your rights are protected under California’s whistleblower laws.

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is an employee who reports an employer’s illegal activities or misconduct. Whistleblowers help ensure workers are treated fairly and receive the protections they deserve. They play a critical role in holding employers accountable and fostering ethical employment practices. Some of the workplace issues whistleblowers may report include:

  • Wage theft
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • Health and safety hazards that result in a hazardous work environment
  • Fraudulent business practices, such as falsifying safety reports

Complaining about the above concerns verbally or in writing is considered a legally protected activity under California law. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who report their wrongdoing. They are also barred from retaliating against employees who refuse to participate in unlawful activities or orders that violate laws.

What is the California Whistleblower Protection Act?

California has strong whistleblower protections for workers. The state recognizes the importance of whistleblowing, and its labor laws offer robust legal safeguards for employees who complain about wrongdoing or an employer’s violations of state or federal laws.

  • Broad protection: California law protects whistleblowers who report violations not only of state and federal laws but also of company policies and internal regulations.
  • Multiple avenues for reporting: Whistleblowers can report violations internally to their supervisor, a compliance officer or a company hotline. Protected disclosures can also be made externally to government agencies or law enforcement officials.
  • Anti-retaliation: The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for whistleblowing. This includes termination, demotion, pay cuts, negative performance reviews, or hostile work environments.

Unfortunately, despite existing whistleblower laws designed to protect workers, they may still experience retaliation. When an employer retaliates against you for unlawful reasons, an experienced Oakland employment attorney can help you stand up for your rights.

How Do I Know If I Have a Whistleblower Claim?

California workers are protected from retaliation when reporting “waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or threat to public health,” according to state law. This holds as long as the employee makes the complaint in good faith. 

A worker does not need to be personally harmed by the employer’s wrongdoing to report it. Even if the employee’s report turns out to be mistaken, the employer cannot retaliate for a good-faith complaint about illegal activity.

The burden of proof falls on the employee to establish that the employer took adverse action against them because of their whistleblowing. This means showing a connection between the report and the negative treatment the worker experienced, such as being fired, demoted or receiving a harsher performance review.

However, if the employer claims a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the negative action, such as poor performance, the employee can challenge that justification. They can present evidence that the employer’s reason is pretextual, meaning it is a fabricated excuse to mask retaliation.

The strength of a whistleblower claim depends on the nature of the reported violation. For example, an employer’s micromanaging tendencies can be frustrating. However, they do not qualify as an illegal activity. Even if the employer retaliated against the worker for complaining about the micromanagement, there would not be strong grounds for a lawsuit.

In contrast, facing retaliation for reporting serious employment violations like sexual harassment or wage theft can give rise to a whistleblower claim. California laws mandate employers provide workers with a harassment-free work environment and pay all earned wages. Retaliation following such reports has a much higher chance of success in a whistleblower lawsuit.

Case Study: UC Davis Harassment and Discrimination Case

Our client worked as a licensed vocational nurse at the UC Davis Medical Center outpatient clinics in Sacramento. We helped her file a lawsuit for discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation against her employer, the Regents of the University of California.

The employer fired our client, alleging disruptive behavior and intimidation in the workplace. However, she claimed her termination was a pretext to cover up her employer’s true intent to discriminate or retaliate against her for whistleblowing. 

Our client blew the whistle on what she believed was unlawful activity in the workplace. As was within her legal rights as an employee, she raised concerns about patient safety and the surgery clinic being short-staffed. She brought verbal and written complaints about her good-faith belief that her employer’s conduct violated California and federal laws regarding safe nursing practices. 

Our client brought an internal whistleblower complaint, filing reports with the UC Davis whistleblower hotline and other relevant offices. She also reported her refusal to participate in actions that she, in good faith, believed to be violations of the law.

The employer retaliated against our client for her complaints by subjecting her to adverse employment actions, including discipline and wrongful termination. Additionally, she faced discrimination based on her sex, gender, national origin and race. The employer failed to take action to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation from taking place.

$600,000 Case Settlement for UC Berkeley Employee

The University of California policy and California law prohibit vendors from purchasing meals or giving gifts to public employees – these laws protect tax dollars and prevent corruption.  A UC Berkeley manager accepted meals and gifts from a vendor. This manager approved contracts worth $6.8 Million. Our client reported the manager to the ethics hotline and to higher-ups in his department. Instead of investigating or stopping the behavior, UC Berkeley fired our client a few months later. The Erlich Law Firm team of lawyers were able to negotiate $600,000 settlement on behalf of our client.

How an Oakland Whistleblower Attorney Can Help

At Erlich Law Firm, we aim to be your trusted partner in navigating the complexities of your whistleblower claim. Not all cases meet the criteria for a whistleblower lawsuit. A knowledgeable Oakland attorney will meticulously evaluate your situation and determine whether you have grounds for a case against your employer.

Proving a whistleblower claim is a process that involves gathering solid evidence and showing that illegal retaliation took place. Without meticulous preparation and proper documentation, a whistleblower case risks premature rejection. As a result, it is important to hire a skilled employment lawyer with your best interests at heart.

Erlich Law Firm strives to protect workers’ rights in the face of unlawful treatment. If you have experienced negative consequences for whistleblowing, we will help you recover the compensation you deserve, including lost wages, benefits and other damages.

As a well-established Oakland law firm, Erlich Law Firm has a deep understanding of California whistleblower laws and employment regulations. Employment lawyer Jason Erlich has a history of success in securing favorable outcomes for whistleblowers in various industries. Employers should not be allowed to silence workers for speaking up.

Contact Erlich Law Firm for a Free Case Evaluation

If you believe your employer has subjected you to retaliation due to whistleblowing, reach out to Erlich Law Firm right away. An experienced Oakland employment lawyer is ready to help you hold your employer accountable through a whistleblower lawsuit. We handle cases from clients in Oakland and all over Northern California. Call (510) 390-9140 to schedule a free case evaluation today.


My parents were heavily involved in community organizing. Seeing neighbors and friends’ parents struggle in the workplace gave me a sense of purpose that I wanted to help others. Many employees feel helpless and powerless in the workplace, and helping them vindicate their rights is the right thing to do.

- Jason Erlich

Client testimonials
Jason took the time to explain and guide me through the challenging process, and went the extra steps in consistently providing guidance and putting my concerns and questions high on their list.

Jeff V., Oakland

Jason Erlich made me feel like I was in the right place right away.I had some serious problems with a previous employer and he took care of everything. From the start he helped with my concerns and fears going up against a big corporation.

Susan W., Pacifica

With Jason’s expertise, commitment and aggressiveness, the case is now over and it’s only been 6 months!! I would HIGHLY recommend Jason Erlich to anyone that needs an employment lawyer.

Carla, Petaluma

I can highly recommend Jason Erlich Esq. for any employment law matter. He is an outstanding lawyer, embodies a mix of honesty, knowledge, client care and tough mindset.

Roger J., Oakland

When employees' legal rights are violated, we take time to explain their legal options, listen to their goals, and aggressively argue their case until we achieve the resolution they deserve.