At the Leichter Law Firm, APC, the Los Angeles employment law attorney, Aryeh Leichter, knows that California workplace protections are constantly evolving and expanding, but — depending on the law — with the caveat that the employee or employer take steps to ensure compliance.

While California employees enjoy protections that typically rise beyond federal protections, the details regarding who or what is protected can sometimes be complex.

One seemingly straightforward protection is that California law prohibits employers from retaliating against “whistleblowing.” Whistleblowers are identified as employees who disclose information about suspected law violations to someone who can investigate, discover, or correct the violation.

In May 2023, whistleblower retaliation protection was expanded by the California Supreme Court in People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc. Here is what the expanded protection entails.

The Term “Disclosure” No Longer Only Applies to a New Complaint


In People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc., a bartender at a nightclub in Orange County, complained to the club’s owner about unpaid wages for her previous three shifts.

The club’s owner terminated the bartender’s employment and threatened to report her to immigration authorities.

The bartender filed a complaint against the nightclub and its owner with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). After the nightclub refused to accept the DLSE’s proposed remedies, the Labor Commissioner sued the club for various violations of the Labor Code, including retaliation.

The problem was that California courts interpreted the term “disclosure” to require the revelation of something new, effectively removing whistleblower protection for an employee who reported a known violation to the employer. Essentially, since the employer already knew the employee had not been paid, her complaint did not reveal something new and did not violate her rights by retaliating against her.

With this interpretation of the law, both the trial court and appellate court ruled against the Labor Commissioner.

In May 2023, the California Supreme Court expanded whistleblower protection by reversing the lower court’s decision, finding that a “disclosure” encompasses an employee’s complaint of a potential violation of law “without regard to whether the recipient already knew of the violation.”

This definition aligns with the federal Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which protects an employee’s disclosure even if the recipient already knew of the violation.

Have You Been Retaliated Against in Your California Workplace?

If you have been retaliated against for reporting an unlawful workplace violation, contact Aryeh Leichter, the Leichter Law Firm, APC founder and employment law attorney in Los Angeles County today to discuss the legal remedies that may be available for your unique workplace circumstances today, starting with a free consultation by calling 818-915-6624 or contacting the firm online.

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