Whistleblower Protection for State Workers in California

california whistleblower protection for state workersCalifornia Government Code 8547 is the core statute that provides for whistleblower protection against retaliation for the State workers in California. The law states that state employees should be free to report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law, or threat to public health without fear of retaliation. This law covers University of California employees as well as other public sector employees in California. A report or “protected disclosure” means any good faith communication that discloses or demonstrates an intention to disclose information that may evidence (1) an improper governmental activity or (2) any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public if the disclosure or intention to disclose was made for the purpose of remedying that condition.

The Power of California Whistleblower Protection Law for State Workers Is In Its Language

The significant power of this anti-retaliation law is in the the following parts of the law:  (1) “any good faith communication”  and (2) “demonstrates an intention to disclose” language (similar to other anti retaliation laws). This language means that even if the report turns out to be incorrect, but it’s based on employee’s reasonable suspicion, that disclosure will have a whistleblower protection. It further means that if an employee notified the employer of his intent to make a protected disclosure before he actually manage to accomplish it, the employee will already be protected by this law. Finally, “any” means that the employee-whistleblower will be protected regardless of whether the disclosure is done orally or in writing, even though having a documentary proof of disclosure is of course a good idea.

Before an employee may pursue a Gov Code 8547 claim in court, he must file a claim with SPB (State Personnel Board). Once SPB issues or fails to issue their findings, the employee will be able to pursue his case in court, regardless of the SPB decision (please see the Arbuckle decision).