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Whistleblower Protection Act cases not subject to Government Claims Act

The California Court of Appeal held recently that actions under the California Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) (Govt. Code § 8547 et seq.) are not subject to compliance with the Government Claims Act (Govt. Code § 900-915.4, 945.4). Cornejo v. Lightbourne (2013) 220 Cal. App. 4th 932.  The Goverment Claims Act has a shorter (6 months) deadline for bringing claims than the WPA (12 months).

Normally, filing a claim with a public entity under the Government Claims Act, (sometimes called the Tort Claims Act), is required before bringing a civil claim against the public entity, such as a claim for personal injury or damages.  There are certain exceptions, such as claims brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for retaliation, harassment, etc. based on physical or mental disability, gender, race, religion, etc.

The WPA provides protection to employees who report improper governmental acitvities and unlawful conduct by government officials or employees.  The WPA provides a formal admininstrative process that the claimant must comply with prior to bringing a suit for civil damages in court.  Complaints under the administrative process must be brought within one year the retaliatory act, such as termination, demotion or other adverse employment action.

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