Although California is still an employment at will state, the laws of this state actually protect employees from getting fired or facing other disciplinary or adverse action in a lot of different circumstances.
One such circumstance is when an employee either refuses to do something that breaks the law or chooses to report a law violation that he or she observes at work. An employee is also protected if he or she chooses to assist authorities in an investigation of his or her employee or a member of management.
More specifically, California law protects these "whistleblowers" from any form of employer retaliation, from termination all the way down to a re-assignment or even simply making rules and regulations up that keep an employee from being able to report law violations.
It is important for employees in the Los Angeles area to understand exactly who a "whistleblower" is, as protection is not offered for all types of employee complaints, even if the employee is complaining of conduct the employee feels is inappropriate, unethical or even immoral.
In order to be a whistleblower, one must first have a good reason to believe that what he or she wishes to report is a violation of a law or regulation that applies to the person's employer. An employee also may report hazardous working conditions, even if they fall within the letter of the law.
A whistleblower is also not guaranteed protection for reporting to anybody; for example, the whistleblower has no special right to report a violation of the law to the local news media. The whistleblower may make a report, without fear of retaliation, to government authorities, to one's supervisors or to someone within his or her company who is assigned to investigate such issues.
If a Los Angeles employee feels he or she was retaliated against because he or she simply insisted that his or her employer follow the law, legal options may be available.