Can I Be Fired For Reporting My Employer To OSHA
Workplace safety is generally a concept associated with the industrial sector. However, California as well as the Federal Government have protections in place that protect employees who report violations of law to OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
On December 29, 1970, President Nixon signed into law the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA). OSHA’s mission was designed to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and woman by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” Before OSHA was enacted, occupational illnesses, injuries, and deaths were rising at an unprecedented rate. In fact, over 400,000 people died due to workplace injuries in the 25 years preceding OSHA legislation. Some have called OSHA, “the safety bill of rights.” Back in the 1970, OSHA covered roughly 60 million workers at almost 4 million workplaces. Today, OSHA covers more than 100 million workers in 7 million different worksites.
However, it is important to note that OSHA not only sets out guidelines for workplace safety, they also enforce safety laws. Accordingly, they protect employees who have the courage to report their employer’s violations of law.
How Do I File A Claim with OSHA over My Employer’s Safety Violations?
It is straightforward and simple to file an OSHA violation claim directly to OSHA’s website. By logging onto osha.gov you’ll find a complaint form, where you can fill out and send directly to OSHA. The information you will need to file a claim includes:
- Establishment name: the name of the company you work for
- The address to the employer
- Name of the official at the employer
- The Type of Business
- A detailed description of the hazardous conditions created by your employer: you will be asked to include the approximate individuals exposed to or threatened by each hazard
- A detailed description of exactly where the hazards are located
- Whether you brought the attention directly to the government or your employer
- Your information so that OSHA can contact you
After you file this claim you’re probably asking yourself:
- I was terminated for reporting a claim to OSHA. Can I Sue?
- Is a demotion for reporting a violation to OSHA illegal?
- Can my boss reduce my pay for reporting a violation to OSHA?
- If I see an OSHA violation at work, and I report it, can I be fired?
- Am I eligible for unemployment if I was fired for reporting an OSHA violation?
- Can my boss torment, harass, or call me disloyal for reporting an OSHA violation?
These are all valid questions, as reporting your boss to OSHA is scary. However, employees who report violation of State or Federal law are protected by what is known as whistleblower laws.
It is important to understand that you are protected even if you report other violations of law that do not necessarily involve hazards to OSHA. For example, if you witness sexual harassment, illegal drug use, or theft on your employer’s premises, you are still protected from retaliation due to the reporting. Here at Miracle Mile Law Group, we have represented many clients who have reported violations of State or Federal law.
When Should I File a Complaint?
If you see illegal violations of law occurring at your employer’s place of business, then it is imperative you immediately notify the proper authorities. Proper authorities do not solely include OSHA, but they also include: the fire department, the labor board, the police department, the Wage Order board, or any other governmental agency with power to investigate the violation of law.
When the violation of law includes some safety violation, time is of the essence. When other people’s safety is at risk, there is a moral duty to protect those people. OSHA usually requires that aggrieved employees file a whistleblower complaint within 30 to 180 days. Depending on the regulation, this timeline begins to run after the date of the adverse action.
What Happens if My Boss Retaliates Against Me or Fires Me For Filing an OSHA Violation Claim?
If you were fired because you reported your boss to OSHA, there are multiple labor codes that protect you. They include:
- Labor Code §§ 98.6 & 1102.5: these two statutes protect whistleblowers who report anyviolation of law to a governmental agency, or to the employer itself.
- Labor Code §§ 6310 & 6311:these two statutes are closely aligned to Cal. Lab. Codes section 98.6 and 1102.5; however, the main difference is that 6310 and 6311 pertain almost exclusively to safety violations.
You Are Protected
However, OSHA itself also provides protections to whistleblowers who courageously report violations of law to the governing body. Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that the four key elements of a whistleblower complaint must include:
- employee engaged in a protected activity: this includes reporting a violation of law
- The employer had actual knowledge, or suspected, that the employee reported a violation of law
- The employer retaliated or terminated the employee: the statute states that some adverse action was undertaken—meaning if your boss negatively impacted your work, you may be able to file a claim
- The reason the adverse treatment was put upon the employee was because they reported the violation of law.
Talk To An OSHA Whistleblower Lawyer Today!
Free Consultations and You Pay NOTHING Unless We Win!
The lawyers at Miracle Mile Law Group are experienced and specially trained in lawsuits where an employee has been terminated, harassed, or otherwise retaliated against for reporting their boss for violations of OSHA laws. If you have been or are being retaliated against at work because your reported to OSHA, it is time to talk to an attorney now. These cases are very time sensitive so give us a call at (888) 244-0706 TODAY or contact us online for a free case evaluation! Remember, we do not take a single dollar unless WE WIN!