There are many federal and state laws that govern what both individuals and companies in California can and cannot do. These laws have various purposes, but the general reason for these laws is to ensure that people are not harmed physically or financially. However, sometimes these laws make accomplishing certain goals of a company more time consuming or more expensive. This may lead employers to do certain things to break these laws or ask employees to do things which violate the laws.
To help encourage employees to report these types of violations, there are also laws that protect the employees if they do report an employer. These are known as whistleblower retaliation laws. Basically they prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report violations or refuse to participate in the illegal activity.
If the employer does retaliate against the employee then the employee may be entitled to compensation for any damages they suffer as a result. The employer may also face both civil and criminal penalties. If it is a corporation or LLC then they could be required to pay a civil fine of up to $10,000. The employer also may be charged with a misdemeanor and if it is an individual they may face up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. For corporations, the penalty is a fine up to $5,000.
It is important that employees in California know that they cannot be required to break the law in order to keep their jobs. There are good protections in place to ensure that employers cannot retaliate against an employee for being a whistleblower. If an employer does retaliate they may need to compensate the victim in addition to facing civil penalties and criminal charges. Experienced attorneys understand the law's protections and may be able to protect one's rights.
Source: California Legislature, "Labor Code § 1102.5" accessed on Sept. 21, 2017