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OSHA Updates Online Form To Help Whistleblowers File Complaints

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised its online whistleblower complaint form. The complaint form now includes pop-up boxes with information about other agencies that enforce whistleblower protection laws for whistleblowers who might not fall under OSHA's protections.

The changes are focused on assisting employees, who have been retaliated against for blowing the whistle, to "file their complaints with the appropriate federal agency for prompt action."

The updated form is available in English and Spanish. The form asks users if they have suffered an adverse action and why, as well as when the most recent adverse action occurred. Depending on the law violated, workers have between 30 and 180 days after the alleged retaliation to file a whistleblower complaint. "OSHA Releases New Online Whistleblower Complaint Form For Workers," www.jdsupra.com (Aug. 8, 2017).


Commentary

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA enforces 22 federal laws protecting whistleblowers in various industries from retaliation.

It is illegal for an employer to take adverse action against a protected employee who has reported injuries, safety concerns, or other unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, or who has otherwise engaged in a protected whistleblower activity. Prohibited adverse actions include termination or layoff, blacklisting, demotion, denial of overtime or promotion, discipline, denial of benefits, failure to hire or rehire, intimidation or harassment, threats, reassignment that affects prospects for promotion, or reduction in pay or hours.

Employers must familiarize themselves with federal, state, and local whistleblower protection laws. Know what employee activities are protected from retaliation. Consequently, employers should seek counsel before taking any adverse action against a whistleblower. Trying to silence a whistleblower or otherwise retaliating against a whistleblower will only increase liability exposure.

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Unemployment Rate

4.1% in Jan 2018

Payroll Employment

+200,000(p) in Jan 2018

Average Hourly Earnings

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Productivity

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Source: Department of Labor

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