You Filed an OSHA Complaint. Your Employer Retaliated. Now What?
Know Your Options—and How To Protect Yourself
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is tasked with protecting the health and safety of workers throughout the US. It was created in 1971 after the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
At the time, approximately 14,000 workers were killed and a further 2.5 million were disabled in the workplace every year. Since it was created, OSHA has reduced workplace fatalities by more than 50%, and massively reduced workplace injuries and illnesses as well.
OSHA both sets and enforces laws and standards to ensure worker safety across all industries, and provides training and assistance to employers and employees as well.
Under OSHA law, employers must continually inspect their locations for hazards; eliminate or minimize those when found; keep documentation of workplace illnesses and injuries; train employees to identify health and safety hazards and prevent accidents; and more.
In addition, employees who report OSHA violations are protected by law from retaliation. Or at least, they’re supposed to be. Unfortunately, retaliation is not unusual.
Here’s how to recognize retaliation, and what to do if it happens to you.
What Are Your Rights Under OSHA?
OSHA protects certain rights for employees, including:
- The right to request information from your employer about workplace dangers and proper procedures.
- The right to request an OSHA inspection if you believe there’s a hazard in the workplace.
- The right to refuse work that exposes you to risk of death or serious bodily harm.
- The right to complain or report employee violations without retaliation.
What Constitutes Retaliation?
Employers are prohibited by law from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle on possible OSHA violations.
Any decision by your employer that negatively impacts your working life may constitute retaliation. Employers will often justify certain decisions by claiming your report had nothing to do with it, to varying success in the courts.
Some actions that could be retaliation include:
- Demoting or firing you after you reported a hazard.
- Shutting you out of promotions or other career opportunities.
- Giving you a bad review, especially if your reviews were good prior to the incident.
- Suddenly micromanaging you and looking for excuses to fire or demote you.
- Giving you a less desirable shift or moving you to a less desirable location.
- Promoting a hostile workplace environment through physical or verbal abuse.
What To Do if You Believe Your Employer Has Retaliated Against You
OSHA has a Whistleblower Protection Program that protects employees who report OSHA violations at work. If you believe you’ve experienced retaliation, OSHA encourages you to alert them by filing a complaint. (You can do this via email, mail, or fax to your local OSHA office as well as filing online).
Your time to do this is limited. Legal time limits can be short and run from the date you experienced the retaliation.
Another step you should take is to discuss your case with a knowledgeable employment attorney. Your attorney can assess the situation, help you determine the next steps to take, and hold your employer accountable in court.
We’ve helped thousands of employees gain restitution for retaliation in just these circumstances. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.