Not only can workers become injured in the workplace, but they can also fall victim to workplace retaliation when the worker reports wrongdoing by his or her employer. Several laws and government programs are in place to protect workers from workplace retaliation, however. For instance, federal law prohibits employers from bars retaliating against employees who report workplace injuries.
Many workplace retaliation laws are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various laws affecting workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities.
If a worker is the victim of workplace retaliation as a result of his or her role as a whistleblower, he or she can file a complaint with OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Workplace retaliation occurs any time an employer punishes an employee for asserting his or her legal rights. Common types of workplace retaliation include: demotions, disciplinary actions, dismissals, salary reductions, hour reductions, shift reassignments, and changes in job responsibilities.
The Department of Labor recently announced that whistleblowers covered by one of 22 statutes administered by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will now be able to file complaints online, which will provide workers who have been the victim of workplace retaliation with an additional way to obtain OSHA assistance.
Previously workers could only submit complaints to OSHA by filing a written complaint, or by calling the agency’s toll-free number (1-800-321-OSHA) or an OSHA regional or area office. Under the new OSHA Whistleblower Program enhancements, workers can electronically submit a whistleblower complaint to OSHA by visiting www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html.
The new online complaint form asks workers to include basic whistleblower complaint information with complaints automatically routed to the appropriate regional whistleblower investigators. The complaint form can also be downloaded and submitted to the agency in hard-copy format by fax, mail, or hand-delivery.
The online complaint form applies to whistleblower complaints submitted pursuant to the following 22 statutes that OSHA enforces:
- Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety & Health Act
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
- Clean Air Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
- Energy Reorganization Act
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Solid Waste Disposal Act
- Toxic Substances Control Act
- Federal Railroad Safety Act
- International Safe Container Act
- Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act
- National Transit Systems Security Act
- Pipeline Safety Improvement Act
- Seaman’s Protection Act
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act
- Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century
- Affordable Care Act
- Consumer Financial Protection Act
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
- FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
Accordingly, if a worker becomes aware of a violation of one of the aforementioned laws, and is subject to workplace retaliation after reporting the violation, the worker is protected by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.
In a press release announcing the new online complaint system, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said, “The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation provides the backbone for some of American workers’ most essential protections. Whistleblower laws protect not only workers, but also the public at large and now workers will have an additional avenue available to file a complaint with OSHA.”
The Chicago workers’ rights lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to protecting employees who suffered an on-the-job injury or were the victim of workplace retaliation. We are committed to helping workers who are injured on the job obtain full and fair recovery for their injuries, including workers’ compensation benefits and any personal injury damages in a third party lawsuit, as well as ensuring that they are not the victim of workplace retaliation as a result of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Chicago workers’ rights lawyers.