Environmental Whistleblower Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Whistleblowers often have numerous questions about their rights if they decide to report illegal activity at their workplace. Will you lose your job? Will you be "blacklisted"? How do you get started? Below, you can find answers to these and many other frequently asked questions regarding whistleblowers. To get started on your whistleblower lawsuit, fill out this simple form to contact Weitz & Luxenberg today.
What are my rights as a whistleblower?
You may file a complaint with OSHA if your employer discriminates against you because you are involved in legally protected safety and health activities or report any of the following:
You may file a complaint with OSHA if your employer discriminates against you because you are involved in protected safety or health concerns; you report protected environmental concerns or safety concerns involving the trucking, nuclear power, airline or pipeline industries; or you report potential securities fraud. Specific whistleblower provisions in different laws vary.
Do I have any protection if I voice environmental concerns?
Yes, a number of laws protect workers against retaliation for reporting violations of environmental laws related to drinking water and water pollution, toxic substances, solid waste disposal, air quality and air pollution, and hazardous waste disposal sites.
What environmental laws with whistleblower protections does OSHA enforce?
OSHA administers the whistleblower provisions of the following environmental laws. Note that complaints must be reported to OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.
Other laws exist to protect workers against retaliation for reporting safety and health concerns, including concerns about asbestos in schools. Information on the whistleblower provisions of other laws enforced by OSHA can be obtained as described below.
What actions of retaliation do the whistleblower provisions prohibit?
Employer retaliation against employees who exercise their legal rights under these employee protection statutes is prohibited. Such discrimination may include the following actions:
How do I file a complaint?
If you believe your employer retaliated against you because you exercised your legal rights as an employee, contact your local OSHA office as soon as possible because, as described above, most of these laws contain very short deadlines for filing complaints. Fax or mail your complaint to the OSHA office listed on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov. OSHA conducts an in-depth interview with each complainant to determine the need for an investigation. If evidence supports the worker’s claim of retaliation, OSHA will ask the employer to restore the worker’s job, earnings, and benefits.
Do the environmental whistleblower laws protect me if I refuse to work?
These environmental whistleblower statutes do not expressly provide protection for an employee who refuses to work because of an alleged safety or health violation by an employer. The Secretary, however, interprets these statutes to protect refusals to work where an employee has a reasonable belief that his or her working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, and he or she does not receive an adequate explanation from a responsible official that the conditions are safe.
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