Most employers follow the law, but others do not, and this may make you feel vulnerable if you believe you have no recourse or protection.
You have the right to feel safe at your place of employment. Should you report your employer? What are your rights? Are you protected?
The Whistleblower Protection Program
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), there were almost 3,500 docketed whistleblower cases in the 2020 fiscal year. 2,500 of those whistleblower cases specifically dealt with violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program protects employees from retaliation when they report their employer. OSHA’s investigators are neutral because they do not work for the employer or the employee.
Although Occupational Safety and Health Act violations make up most of the OSHA whistleblower cases, the other top three include violations of:
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act
- Federal Railroad Safety Act
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
The complaint process
If you believe your employer will retaliate against you for exercising your rights, you can file a complaint with OSHA. There are over 20 whistleblower statutes. Some of these are:
- National Transit Systems Security Act
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Seaman’s Protection Act
The time limits for filing a complaint vary.
You can file your complaint:
- In person
Documentation is key to helping the individual investigating your claim. Make copies of anything you believe applies to your case, such as:
- Phone records
- Letters or notes
- Work orders
- Employer’s handbook
- Job description
- Names and numbers of potential witnesses
If you believe your employer is retaliating against you for reporting their wrongdoing, know that you have options. Understanding your rights is the first step toward protecting yourself.