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OSHA frowns on retaliation by employers against whistleblowers

Texas workers should know that federal law provides them with certain protections for whistleblowing. An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee for reporting wrongdoing, hazardous work conditions or other violations of the regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Even so, many employees are subjected to retaliation.

Retaliation comes in many forms. A worker could be demoted, denied a promotion or flat out fired. Other forms of retaliatory behavior include blacklisting, intimidation and making threats. Still other actions by employers, managers and supervisors could count as retaliation based on the specific circumstances.

It is possible to file a complaint with OSHA regarding retaliatory behavior. In order for OSHA to consider the merits of a retaliation complaint, it must be done within a certain amount of time. The amount of time varies, depending on the law under which the whistleblower came forward. If timely filed, OSHA will determine whether the complaint is valid.

A valid complaint is lodged if an employee was engaging in a protected activity, the employer knew about it and then retaliated in some way due to the protected activity. The evidence provided must concur with OSHA's investigation into whether retaliation occurred. If so, OSHA will issue an order for the employer to take certain measures to rectify the situation. Otherwise, a federal complaint could be filed against the employer.

Before taking any action and risking retaliation, an employee should probably consider speaking with a Texas employment litigation attorney to determine whether such actions would be protected under whistleblower laws. If so, already having an advocate in place could save time if an employer does take adverse action against an employee. He or she would help gather the evidence, prepare the complaint and represent the employee in the actions that follow.

Source: osha.gov, "Your Rights as a Whistleblower", Accessed on May 1, 2017

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