First off, never intentionally break the law. Following employers’ orders rarely works as a legitimate excuse for employees to save themselves from personal consequences, particularly in the context of criminal law violations.
Fortunately, the public policy in California encourages employees to refuse to do anything illegal, inform employers when an employee believes something is illegal, and report actual violations of the law to government agencies such as law enforcement when appropriate. To protect employees who do the right thing, California law makes it unlawful for employers to: 1) make, adopt, or enforce any rule or policy preventing employees from disclosing information that employees reasonably believe discloses a violation of the law; 2) retaliate against employees for disclosing information that employees reasonably believe discloses a violation of the law; or 3) retaliate against employees for refusing to participate in a violation of the law.
This protected right applies to violations of all local, state, and federal rules, regulations, and statutes, including both criminal and non-criminal laws. The protected right covers disclosures to employers, other employees with authority to investigate or correct the violations, to government agencies, and public bodies. If an employer retaliates against an employer for exercising the above protected rights, such as by firing the employee, the employee can pursue lost wages, job reinstatement, etc. As a closing pointer, employees might help protect themselves by documenting complaints of illegal conduct in an email, and preserving a copy of the email, to ensure the existence of whistleblower evidence tied to any subsequent retaliation from an employer.
(See Link(s): Labor Code Section 1102.5)