The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have established the federal “Whistleblower Protection Program” that provides recourse for employees who have been victims of “adverse action” – retaliation – because they exercised their rights under any of the 21 whistleblower laws administered by the DOL and OSHA.
Depending upon the circumstances of the case, illegal “adverse” action may include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Making threats
- Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
Activities protected by the DOL and OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program include:
- Initiating a proceeding under, or for the enforcement of, any of these statutes, or causing such a proceeding to be initiated;
- Testifying in any such proceeding;
- Assisting or participating in any such proceeding or in any other action to carry out the purposes of these statutes; or
- Complaining about a violation
If OSHA finds that an employee’s rights were violated, it will issue a determination letter requiring the employer to pay back wages, reinstate the employee, reimburse the employee for attorney and expert witness fees, and take other steps to provide necessary relief. Complaints found not to have merit will be dismissed. If the Secretary of Labor has not issued a final decision within 180 days of the filing of a Sarbanes-Oxley complaint, one year of the filing of an Energy Reorganization Act complaint, or 210 days of a Surface Transportation Assistance Act, Federal Rail Safety Act, National Transportation System Security Act, or Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act complaint, and there is no showing that the delay is due to the bad faith of the employee, the whistleblower may file a lawsuit against their employer in federal district court under those statutes.
Legal Help for Employment and Labor Whistleblowers
To take advantage of these protections, employees must adhere to very specific procedures when filing their complaint with OSHA. 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.