What is the whistleblower protection program?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2018 | Blog |

As someone who knows that there are safety and health violations happening at your place of work, you want to let someone know. However, if you do, you’re worried that you could face retaliation. Your employer is not known for being kind to those who make them angry, and this makes you concerned.

The good thing to know is that you are protected under whistleblower laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program is there to protect people like yourself from unfair retaliation when you’ve done something to help others in your workplace.

The OSH Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who exercise their rights under the act. This includes filing a complaint with OSHA and participating in an inspection. It also includes reporting injuries, talking to inspectors and raising complaints with the employer directly. If you are retaliated against for any of these things, then you can file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged action for assistance in resolving the issue.

What are adverse actions?

Employers who take adverse actions against employees are violating the law. However, employees have to know what adverse actions are before they can file a complaint. Adverse actions may include:

  • Terminating their position
  • Docking pay
  • Cutting work hours
  • Placing the person on unpaid leave
  • Harassing the individual
  • Demoting the worker
  • Blacklisting the worker
  • Denying promotions or overtime
  • Denying benefits
  • Making threats

These are significant actions to take against an employee, and the OSHA knows that they are unfair. For that reason, federal and state laws protect workers against unfair retaliation if they make a complaint in good faith with OSHA.

What are the time limits for whistleblower protection statutes?

Time limits include 30 days after OSHA completes an inspection in a workplace, 90 days for employees who report asbestos in elementary or secondary school systems, 30 days for employees who report violations in air emissions, 180 days for those who report violations of the Atomic Energy Act or Energy Reorganization Act and 30 days for those who report violations of the Clean Water Act.

What should you do if you’re retaliated against?

If you believe that you’ve been retaliated against or have faced discrimination because of claims you’ve made, it’s important to let OSHA know and to reach out to your legal team. There is no excuse for the behavior of your employer.