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OSHA Releases New Online Whistleblower Complaint Form for Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a revised online whistleblower complaint form.

In an announcement, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt said, “Workers who report unsafe conditions and wrongdoing have a range of legal protections from retaliation. The revised online complaint form works to ensure whistleblowers file their complaints with the appropriate federal agency for prompt action.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 makes employers responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s whistleblower statutes protect workers from retaliation, or “adverse action,” against workers who report injuries, safety concerns, or other protected activity.

Since passage of the 1970 safety and health law, Congress has expanded OSHA’s whistleblower authority to protect workers under the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes, including various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, public transportation, workplace safety and health, and consumer protection laws. Workers have a certain number of days, ranging from 30 days to 180 days after an alleged retaliation, to file their complaint.

The updated form, available in English and Spanish, prompts individuals through a series of questions, such as:

  • Have you suffered an “adverse action”?

  • When did you suffer the most-recent adverse action?

  • Why do you believe you suffered the adverse action(s)?

Each question leads users to another question, until the form is complete. OSHA said that one new feature of its reporting system is the addition of pop-up boxes to the complaint form with information about various agencies for individuals who respond that they engaged in protected activity that may be addressed by an agency other than OSHA.

Under federal law, workers are protected from “adverse action,” including firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to hire or rehire, intimidating/harassing, making threats, reassigning in a way that affects prospects for promotion, and reducing pay or hours.

OSHA provides information about employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

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About this Author

Joseph S. Dreesen, Jackson Lewis, Union arbitrations lawyer, employment discrimination attorney
Principal

Joe Dreesen is a Principal in the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Dreesen represents management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law.

Mr. Dreesen’s practice includes National Labor Relations Board proceedings; collective bargaining; arbitrations; employment discrimination; workplace safety and health; wage and hour; public-sector labor relations and employment law; and general counseling in all aspects of workplace law. Mr. Dreesen is a frequent lecturer to employer associations and business groups, and has...

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