Employees who complain to their employers, unions or government agencies about violations of labor laws or workplace safety regulations are protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and a number of other laws from retaliatory action on the part of their employers. Generally, employment and labor whistleblowers may not be transferred, denied a raise, have their hours reduced, be fired or punished in any other way because they have exercised any right afforded to them under one of the laws that protect whistleblowers. These employment and labor whistleblower laws are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The Employment and Labor Whistleblower Program at Gilman Law LLP provides representation to employees who have been victims of retaliation for reporting labor law or workplace safety violations. If you need assistance filing a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, our experienced and dedicated whistleblower attorneys will make sure you receive all of the protections afforded by the OSH Act and other workplace whistleblower laws.
Types of Employment Violation Whistleblower Claims
Fair Labor Standards Act Violations
If you believe your employer violated wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you may be able to file a private lawsuit seeking back pay and other damages. FLSA violations that may entitle employees to compensation include:
- Misclassifying employees as “exempt” to avoid paying employees overtime,
- Misclassifying employees as “independent contractor to evade pension and benefit obligations.
If you feel your employer misclassified your employee status or engaged in some other scam to cheat you out of your rightfully earned wages, pension or benefits, you might be able to file a private lawsuit against your employer. If you prevail, you can be awarded the previous two years of back pay (three years in the case of a willful violation) and an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The FLSA also includes an “anti-retaliation” provision, 29 USC § 215(a)(3), that prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for filing a wage and hour law complaint. If an employee was the victim of retaliatory action in violation of the FLSA, the employee may seek reinstatement, promotion, back pay or lost wages and liquidated damages.
Other Employment and Labor Whistleblower Laws
OSHA administers the whistleblower protection provisions of 21 federal laws, including Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, which prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the he or she has exercised rights under the Act. Rights afforded by the OSH Act include employee participation in safety and health activities, such as complaining to OSHA, seeking or participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection, and reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality.
Other workplace whistleblower provisions administered OSHA include:
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982: Provides specific safety and health discrimination protections for truck drivers and other employees relating to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Act of 1986: Provides employee protection against retaliation for reporting violations of environmental laws relating to asbestos in elementary and secondary school systems, whether public or non-profit private.
- International Safety Container Act of 1977: Provides specific protection for employees against retaliation for reporting the existence of unsafe shipping containers.
- Energy Reorganization Act of 1978: Provides occupational safety and health discrimination protections for employees of operators, applicants, contractors, and subcontractors of nuclear power plants licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and for employees of contractors working under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (so-called GOCO sites).
- Clean Air Act of 1977: Provides discrimination protection and provides for the development and enforcement of standards regarding air quality and air pollution. Employees are protected from retaliation for reporting violations, or alleged violations, of the standards.
- Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974: Requires that all drinking water systems in public buildings and new construction of all types be lead free. Employees are protected from retaliation for reporting violations, or alleged violations, of the law.
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972: Prohibits any and all hazardous pollution of waters that provide a natural habitat for living things. Persons reporting such pollution, or alleged pollution, are protected from discrimination.
- Toxic Substances Control Act,15 USC § 2622: Regulates the manufacture, distribution, and use of certain toxic substances. Employees are protected from retaliation for reporting violations, or alleged violations, of the Act.
- Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1976: Provides technical and financial assistance for the development of facilities for the recovery of energy and other resources from discarded materials and to regulate the management of hazardous waste. Employees are protected from discrimination for exercising certain rights under the Acts.
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980: Provides for liability, compensation, cleanup, and emergency response for hazardous substances released into the environment and for the cleanup of inactive hazardous waste disposal sites. Employees are protected from discrimination for exercising certain rights under the Acts.
- Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century: Provides anti-discrimination coverage to employees of air carriers, contractors, or subcontractors of air carriers who raise safety concerns.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Provides anti-discrimination protection to employees of publicly traded corporations who report violations of the Securities Exchange Act or any other federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.
- Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, 49 USC § 60129: Provides discrimination protection for employees who report violations, or alleged violations, of federal law regarding pipeline safety and security or who refuse to violate such provisions.
Legal Help for Employment and Labor Whistleblowers
The Employment and Labor Whistleblower Program at Gilman Law LLP has assisted workers in multiple industries who have been victims of retaliation for reporting violations of labor laws and workplace safety regulations. If you were retaliated against for blowing the whistle, Gilman Law LLP can see to it that your rights are protected. For a free and confidential evaluation with our Employment and Whistleblower Program, please fill out our online form or call Toll Free at 1-888-252-0048.