The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created with a mission to achieve safe and healthful work conditions for this country’s workforce. It does this through regulations, training, education, and assistance, and covers private and public sector workers and employers.
Many people may be surprised to discover that whistleblower protection also falls under the scope of the services that OSHA provides. This means that employees who report health and safety violations to their companies or directly to OSHA are protected from retaliation by their employers. Violations include improper handling and storage of chemicals, wages and hours, workplace violence, and a host of other issues.
There are numerous whistleblower protection laws that OSHA enforces, and these apply to manufacturing, energy generation or distribution, construction, and other industries. Others are for motor vehicle carriers, railroads, airlines, nuclear facilities, and additional worksites.
Employees are protected if they choose to notify their company or OSHA about possible violations, workplace illnesses and injuries, and jobsite hazards. They are also protected should they refuse to participate in a dangerous workplace activity or break a law. To summarize, an employer cannot do the following to a whistleblower:
- Prevent the employee from reporting a violation to OSHA, even if the employee does not report it to their company
- Threaten, intimidate, or discipline the employee
- Demote, layoff, or fire the employee
- Deny a promotion, benefits, or overtime pay
- Cut the employee’s hours, blacklist them, or give bad performance reviews
Workplace Anti-Retaliation Programs
OSHA recommends that companies design workplace Anti-Retaliation Programs, and that they share the details with all employees and contractors. Workers should know that they have the right to immediately report workplace safety and health issues to the company or to OSHA. This can be accomplished through a training regimen with a clear system for communicating any concerns.
Supervisors can also encourage workers to speak out and prioritize employee confidentiality, and there should be a system in place to process and address the reports. The anti-retaliation policy can then be enforced, monitored periodically, and adjusted, if needed. OSHA can help with setting up these programs. Some companies even have incentives that reward workers that report health and safety issues.
Reporting to OSHA
Employees have the right to request an inspection if they feel that the company is not adhering to OSHA standards or if there is a safety hazard present. Even if the worker is not sure that an OSHA standard was violated, they can still file a complaint. It should be filed as quickly as possible, since citations are only issued for current violations or those that were present within the past six months. Employees may contact OSHA by phone or online.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Those Experiencing Whistleblower Retaliation
OSHA protects employees from whistleblower retaliation, but some companies still choose to act against workers that speak out. If you are experiencing retaliation at work, contact the Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. right away. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and help employees throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.