Understanding Your Rights | Filing Whistleblower Complaints

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When you accepted your job, you believed you would be working for a company that conducted its business using safe practices and ethical principles. Unfortunately, some situations are not clear during the interview process, and not all employees have the high level of integrity you were expecting from your colleagues and superiors.

If you caught your employer violating a law and filed a report, you did the right thing. In a perfect world, management recognized their error, took responsibility, learned from the mishap and moved forward with a higher level of respect for you. Sadly, situations such as these do not always settle themselves smoothly. If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly, refer to OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs for guidanec.

Protect Yourself from Employer Retaliation

Under the provisions of Section 11(c) of the OSHA Act, your employer is prohibited from discriminating against you for filing a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, taking part in an inspection or talking with an inspector, searching for employer exposure and injury records, reporting an injury or notifying an inspector of a health or safety complaint. It is important to recognize when an employer is responding in a way that is wrongful and detrimental to you and your career. According to OSHA, employer retaliation can include firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or a promotion, disciplining, denial of benefits, failure to hire or rehire, intimidation or harassment, making threats, reassignment(s) that negatively impact career advancement and decreasing rate of pay or working hours.

Learn More About Whistleblower Protection Statutes

A variety of different occupational, environmental and nuclear safety laws have been put in place to protect your rights. Each contains its own set of anti-retaliation provisions that employers must abide by and gives you a certain number of days to file a complaint if you feel you have been treated unfairly. The number of days you have to file your complaint can vary greatly, so if you are even considering taking this step, ensure you know exactly how long you have to take action. For example, you only have 30 days to report violations of the Clean Air Act, but 180 days for the Energy Reorganization Act.

Filing a Complaint with OSHA

If you decide to file a whistleblower complaint, OSHA gives you plenty of submission options.

  1. Verbally. Call 1-800-321-OSHA or visit your local OSHA office.
  2. In Writing. Write a detailed account of the situation and mail it to your local OSHA Regional or Area Office. Include your name, address and telephone number, so the agency can get in touch with you.
  3. Download Form and Fax or Mail Back. Download the Notice of Whistleblower Complaint Form (OSHA 8-60.1), fill it out and fax or mail it to your local OSHA Regional or Area Office.
  4. Online. File your whistleblower complaint online.

Visit the OSHA website to learn more about its whistleblower protection programs.

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