What Do You Do When Your Employer Asks You To Do Something Illegal
Unfortunately, there are many times when an employer asks an employee to do something illegal. This creates a very difficult conundrum for the employee. Do you go against the employer’s request and risk being fired or do you do what they say to keep your job and keep food on the table?
Thankfully, the California legislature has made it so the employee does not have to make that decision. California Labor Code section 1102.5 the employee does not have to make that decision. Through that statute the legislature made it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for refusing to perform an illegal activity.
Not only that, but that statute also protects an employee who informs a government or law enforcement agency of an employer’s illegal activity as long as the employee reasonably believed that the employer’s conduct was in fact illegal. This gives great protection to the employee as you do not even have to be correct that their actions violated the law, just that the employee reasonably believed that it did.
If the employee can show that because they refused to participate in an illegal activity or reported their employer for reasonably believing that they were performing illegal activity and can show the employer retaliated, then in order to avoid liability for the retaliation the employer must show through clear and convincing evidence (an elevated standard of proof that will be explained in a future blog post) that even without the employees conduct they would have performed the retaliatory actions.
Keep in mind though, not all immoral activity is illegal, making baseless assumptions about your employer’s dealings does not give rise to reasonable basis, and not all adverse conduct to you would be considered “retaliation.” That is why it is advisable that before going to a government or law enforcement agency that you first consult with an attorney to ensure that you would be protected.