By: Cheryl D. Orr, Robert Spagat, and Nicole P. Dogwill
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The Cartwright Act does not include a whistleblower protection provision to protect employees who report employer violations of the Act. As such, employees who report employer violations of the Act are instead protected by common law and by Section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code.
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C. Whistleblowing & Retaliation Under California Business & Professions Code § 17200
There is very little case law dealing directly with whistleblower protections for reporting violations of § 17200 of California's Business and Professions Code. Like the Cartwright Act, § 17200 does not contain explicit whistleblower protection provisions. In Haney, the court found that the plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to state a claim for relief where the plaintiff alleged that he has been wrongfully terminated against public policy for reporting violations under a number of theories, including violations of § 17200. Specifically, the employee in Haney alleged that he was discharged because he complained about fraudulent billing practices and refused to implement those practices. Plaintiff alleged retaliation in violation of public policy (pursuant to Tameny) and also asserted that his employer's practice of defrauding its customers constituted an unfair business practice under § 17200. The Court held that the plaintiff's allegations that he was terminated for complaining about and refusing to engage in fraudulent billing practices were sufficient to state a claim for retaliatory discharge in violation of a public policy.
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