A committee set up by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has expressed concern that employers are still punishing whistleblowers despite prior actions to offer protections. The committee consists of union representatives, corporate attorneys and government officials.
OSHA wants to create a “speak up” culture in workplaces to help employees voice concerns they may have about the safety of their workplace environment. Currently, employers retaliate against whistleblowers by ostracizing them from meetings, mocking them and in some cases terminating employment. According to OSHA, new guidelines and further protections will be set up within the next six months.
Employers who fail to recognize whistleblower protections can face severe fines. For example, in 2013, Coit Services in Ohio was ordered to pay $161,288 for firing a whistleblower. In another case, Union Pacific was ordered to pay $100,000 after an injured worker filed a workplace safety complaint.
What Protections Do Whistleblowers Have?
Whistleblowers are protected from retaliatory actions that include termination of employment, blacklisting, demoting, denying promotions and reducing pay or hours. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program allows workers who have faced retaliation from their employer to file anonymous complaints with OSHA within 30 days.
Some employees are exposed to dangerous workplace environments that can raise the risk of fatal and non-fatal work accidents. Injured workers might be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation or disability coverage. Contacting an attorney can help workers discover what options are available.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC – Columbus Workers’ Comp Attorneys