Whistleblower Protection Program

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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.

Whistleblowing Administration

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:

  • Firing or laying off
  • Blacklisting
  • Demoting
  • Denying overtime or promotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denial of benefits
  • Failure to hire or rehire
  • Intimidation
  • Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
  • Reducing pay or hours
Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration
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