|U.S. Department of Labor|
|Occupational Safety & Health Administration|
|«« Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program|
|The Whistleblower Protection Program|
The Occupational Safety and Health Act is designed to regulate employment conditions relating to occupational safety and health and to achieve safer and more healthful workplaces throughout the nation. The Act provides for a wide range of substantive and procedural rights for employees and representatives of employees. The Act also recognizes that effective implementation and achievement of its goals depend in large measure upon the active and orderly participation of employees, individually and through their representatives, at every level of safety and health activity.
To help ensure that employees are, in fact, free to participate in safety and health activities, Section 11(c) of the Act prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner discriminating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the Act.
These rights include complaining to OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, and participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection.
OSHA also administers the whistleblowing provisions of sixteen other statutes, protecting employees who report violations of various trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, consumer product and securities laws.
A person filing a complaint of discrimination or retaliation will be required to show that he or she engaged in protected activity, the employer knew about that activity, the employer subjected him or her to an adverse employment action, and the protected activity contributed to the adverse action. Adverse employment action is generally defined as a material change in the terms or conditions of employment. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, "discrimination" can include:
Filing a Complaint
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because you exercised your safety and health rights or other protected activity, contact your local OSHA Office right away. Most discrimination complaints fall under the OSH Act, which gives you only 30 days to report discrimination. Some of the other laws have complaint-filing deadlines that differ from OSHA's, so be sure to check.
In addition, depending on the statute, you may need to file your complaint in writing. You can telephone, fax, or mail your OSHA 11(c) complaint. The complaint should be filed with the OSHA office responsible for enforcement activities in the geographical area where the employee resides or was employed, but may be filed with any OSHA officer or employee. For more information, call your closest OSHA Regional Office:
OSHA conducts an in-depth interview with each complainant to determine the need for an investigation. If evidence supports the worker's claim of discrimination, OSHA will ask the employer to restore the worker's job, earnings and benefits. If the employer objects, OSHA may take the employer to court to seek relief for the worker. The procedures for investigations of discrimination complaints are contained in the OSHA Whistleblower Investigations Manual:
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|Occupational Safety & Health Administration
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