Employees that are terminated or otherwise experience a change in job duties after "whistleblowing" (e.g., reporting unlawful activity) may be entitled to various legal protections and remedies under state and Federal law.
Federal Whistleblower Laws
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX): SOX protects employees who experience retaliation for reporting violations by employers required to register securities (e.g., stocks or bonds) under the various federal securities laws. This protection extends to employees of contractors and subcontractors hired to advise publicly traded corporations on matters such as legal, accounting, or investing. There is a very small 180 day window within which to proceed on SOX claims.
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank): Dodd-Frank allows the SEC to pay awards to whistleblowers who provide the SEC original information, as defined therein, leading to sanctions of more than $1,000,000. Employees that are terminated for reporting under Dodd-Frank are entitled to bring a private action seeking reinstatement, back-pay, and attorney's fees, among other remedies, but must do so within three years of knowing "facts material to the right of action" or within six years of the "challenged reprisal."
Affordable Care Act ("ACA"): Employees who experience retaliation for reporting violations of Title 1 of the ACA may file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 180 days of the alleged violation seeking backpay and other remedies.
False Claims Act ("FCA"): The FCA authorizes a private party (i.e., "relator") to bring a qui tam (i.e., "who as well") suit that seeks reimbursement of government funds paid and/or obtained by fraud. The FCA also protects those who make such claims from retaliation, allowing for backpay, reinstatement, and other remedies. A relator may also be entitled to a percentage of the funds recovered, if any.
California Whistleblower Laws
Labor Code § 1102.5: California prohibits retaliation against employees that have disclosed information to a government agency or to an authority with power to investigate, discover, or correct the reported violation, where the employee has "reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee's job duties." Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5. Remedies may include backpay, reinstatement, actual damages, civil penalties, and attorney's fees.
California False Claims Act (Government Code § 12653) ("CAFCA"): Similar to the federal FCA, the CAFCA protects employees from retaliation for disclosing false claims for payment by the State of California or political subdivisions of the State of California. Remedies may include reinstatement, back pay, attorney's fees, or other remedies to make the claimant whole.