As some Wisconsin workers have found, employees who see and report unsafe conditions or activities might find that negative actions have been taken against them by an employer. If this happens, the employee may have the ability to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA investigates reports by looking into the protected activity and determining if the employee’s actions were justified. In addition, OSHA reviews an employer’s response to a whistleblower. There are many different areas where an employee may feel that dangerous or unlawful conditions exist ranging from the transportation industry, environmental concerns and corporate fraud among others. The employer is prohibited from taking such actions as firing the employee or failing to promote them. The employer may not refuse the employee benefits or overtime. In addition, the employer may not demote, reduce pay, blacklist or intimidate the employee. Such actions are unlawful, and the employee may report the retaliation to OSHA or state agencies in a timely manner.
After interviewing those involved and investigating the situation, if OSHA determines the employee was exercising a legal right and the employer took adverse actions against the worker due to the protected activity, the agency may try reach an agreement. If this fails, OSHA may order the employee be reinstated with back pay and benefits among other remedies. Retaliation by an employer against a whistleblower is against the law. Workers who believe they have been retaliated against may wish to report that information to the nearest OSHA or state office.
In addition, a worker who has reported activities in violation of health and safety laws and is retaliated against may wish to speak to an attorney who can investigate the report and assist the worker with filing a complaint. The attorney can provide insight into the remedies the employee has.
Source FindLaw, “OSHA Whistleblower Protection”, accessed on Feb. 6, 2015