OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than twenty whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Rights afforded by these whistleblower acts include, but are not limited to, worker participation in safety and health activities, reporting a work related injury, illness or fatality, or reporting a violation of the statutes.
Protection from discrimination
Protection from discrimination means that an employer cannot retaliate by taking “adverse action” against workers, such as:
- 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
Workplace Safety and Health
The OSH Act prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees for exercising their rights under the OSH Act. These rights include filing an OSHA complaint, participating in an inspection or talking to an inspector, seeking access to employer exposure and injury records, and raising a safety or health complaint with the employer. If workers have been retaliated or discriminated against for exercising their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged adverse action.
Since passage of the OSH Act in 1970, Congress has expanded OSHA’s whistleblower authority to protect workers from discrimination under twenty-one federal laws. Complaints must be reported to OSHA within set timeframes following the discriminatory action, as prescribed by each law. These laws, and the number of days employees have to file a complaint, are:
- Environmental and Nuclear Safety Laws
- Transportation Industry Laws
- Consumer and Investor Protection Laws
Source: United States Department of Labor, “The Whistleblower Protection Programs” http://www.whistleblowers.gov/ website. Accessed November 24, 2015. http://www.whistleblowers.gov/
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