California workers who are contemplating blowing the whistle on the misdeeds of their employers may be interested to learn of a revised reporting form from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It allows whistleblowers to report their complaints with the correct federal agency. This aids in ensuring that immediate action will be taken in response to the complaints.
There are a number of protections in place for workers who want to report wrongdoings and unsafe working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970 and made employers obligated to have places of work that were healthful and safe. Workers are protected by OSHA’s whistleblower regulations from any adverse actions for reporting safety issues, injuries or any other protected activity.
The reach of the whistleblower laws have been gradually expanded by Congress since the safety and health law was passed in 1970. Twenty-two statutes have whistleblower provisions, and they include laws regarding airlines, pipelines, the environment, trucking, securities, public transportation, consumer protections, workplace safety and health, and railroads. Workers have from 30 to 180 days to submit a complaint.
Both English and Spanish speakers can use the online form, which poses a series of questions. Individuals are asked if they have been subjected to an adverse action as well as when and why the adverse action took place. Pop-up boxes that provide information about federal agencies when responses indicate that a protected activity may be handled by agencies other than OSHA are one of the new features of the form.
Individuals who have been terminated due to reporting an employer to OSHA may have legal recourse. An employment law attorney may challenge the termination and pursue appropriate financial damages if it can be determined that the termination was not wholly performance-related.