Seeking to protect whistleblowing to state regulators, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state insurance department this week in support of my defense against Blue Shield's lawsuit over my whistleblowing.
Here’s the AG's explanation to the appeals court about what's at stake:
In this case, California Physicians’ Service, which does business as Blue Shield of California, alleges that Johnson, a former company employee, breached contractual and other legal duties by disclosing sensitive information outside the company. The record before the trial court indicates that Johnson shared information not only with the press and public but also with state agencies with direct oversight responsibility for Blue Shield’s activities: the Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care.
Any effort to challenge a whistleblower’s voluntary reports to state oversight agencies raises serious concerns for the Department. As the State’s largest consumer-protection agency with responsibility for overseeing over 1,300 insurance companies and 400,000 licensed agents, brokers, and adjusters, the Department has a significant interest in ensuring that whistleblowers and other members of the public can freely communicate with the agency when they learn facts suggesting that an insurance company is failing to meet its statutory or regulatory obligations. Employee confidentiality agreements and the threat of litigation seeking to enforce such agreements risk chilling whistleblowers’ willingness to come forward and report their concerns. Such a result could threaten the Department’s ability to uncover and put a stop to insurance industry practices that may harm consumers or the insurance market as a whole. Such risks pose particular concerns with respect to the health insurance sector, where illegal practices can directly jeopardize the health and safety of Californians who rely upon their insurers’ integrity to obtain honest and competent medical services.
The Department’s proposed amicus brief explains why unencumbered whistleblower reporting supports state regulators’ ability to effectively enforce the law.