Protection From OSHA Retaliation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 as part of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA creates and enforces standards to help ensure a safe and healthful workplace. When employees at a workplace feel they are being asked to do something illegal or made to work in an unsafe environment, they can report the perceived violation to their employer or directly to OSHA.
Workers might understandably be reluctant to file a complaint or “blow the whistle” on their employer. They might fear for their job safety when it becomes known they were the ones who reported the company. However, workers should know that they are protected by law against retaliation for making a workplace safety complaint either to their employer or to a government agency like OSHA.
Guttman, Freidin & Celler is a Florida whistleblower law firm dedicated to helping individuals blow the whistle on fraud and illegal conduct in the workplace. If you have been retaliated against for making a reasonable, good faith complaint to OSHA, we can help you undo any negative action your employer took against you and also recover compensation for any monetary harm their actions caused you. If your rights have been violated by discrimination or retaliation for filing an OSHA complaint, call our office for a confidential case review and advice on next steps.
Overview of OSHA Retaliation Laws
Almost all private-sector workers are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the law which created OSHA. In addition, OSHA has jurisdiction over more than 20 different statutes with whistleblower protection laws for workers ranging from employees in the consumer products industry to railroad workers, and violations of laws regulating clean air, safe drinking water, solid waste disposal and much more.
OSHA creates and enforces standards touching on nearly every aspect of workplace safety. You can find standards regarding all of the following, for example:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – masks, respirators, hardhats, gloves, boots
- Walking-working surfaces: ladders, steps, stairways, scaffolds
- Fall protection
- Exit routes and emergency planning
- Fire prevention, fire detection, fire protection
- Powered platforms
- Hazardous materials
- Hazardous waste
- Confined spaces
- Medical and First Aid
Workers are protected against retaliation for complaining to their employer or OSHA about noncompliance with an applicable OSHA safety standard. Employees are also protected against retaliation for refusing to comply with an order that would violate workplace safety, such as:
- Being ordered to dispose of hazardous waste improperly
- Being told to remove a safeguard from machinery in order to speed up production
- Being asked to work without the necessary PPE
Other Laws Governed by OSHA
In addition to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA has been tasked with investigating whistleblower retlation claims under nearly two dozen other federal laws, including:
- Clean Air Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Solid Waste Disposal AcT
- Toxic Substances Control Act
- Federal Railroad Safety Act
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
- Affordable Care Act
- Consumer Financial Protection Act
- Food Safety Modernization Act
Each covered law has its own protections against whistleblower retaliation, with its own timelines and procedures. Depending on the underlying law, an employee may be able to file a retaliation complaint in federal court if the Department of Labor has not issued a final decision within the specified number of days, which ranges between six months and a year.
For example, the Consumer Product Safety act makes it illegal for a manufacturer, private labeler, distributor or retailer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment in retaliation for providing information to the employer or government agency relating to any violation, act or omission; testifying; assisting or participating in a legal proceeding, or objecting or refusing to participate in any activity, policy, practice or assigned task the employee reasonably believes is illegal. This law allows a civil action with remedies including reinstatement with compensation, back pay, compensatory damages, and reimbursement of the complainant’s costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees and expert witness fees.
Get the Help You Need With OSHA Retaliation Claims
The whistleblower retaliation attorneys at Guttman, Freidin & Celler are vastly experienced across an array of federal statutes and government agencies. Our lawyers can quickly advise you on your retaliation claim, including the applicable procedure to follow in your particular case and the likely legal relief and monetary compensation you can expect. Call our office at 800-654-8281 or contact us online for a complimentary, confidential case review.