The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) guarantees workers the right to speak up about health and safety concerns in the workplace without reprisal. Specifically, Section 11(c) of the law provides workers the express right to report any subsequent employer retaliation against whistleblowers, such as demotion or firing, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Even with these protections, many workers fear retaliation if they report health and safety concerns. Workers who put their jobs on the line to make their voice heard deserve certainty that OSHA has their back if their employers violate the law and take adverse action against them. However, due to statutory barriers and resource constraints, OSHA's administration of 11(c) cases often leaves workers without any remedy.
On May 14, I delivered remarks at an OSHA stakeholder meeting on improving the agency's administration of retaliation cases filed under Section 11(c). I laid out several ways the agency could improve its administration of 11(c) cases, all of which OSHA could adopt using its existing authority and without taking up a tremendous amount of resources. The full statement is available here. The key recommendations are as follows:
Ahead of the meeting, CPR joined with 66 organizations and individuals in submitting comments to the agency with additional recommendations for improving whistleblower protections. As I explained in my oral testimony before the agency, "The organizations and individuals [who signed onto the letter] represent a diverse set of perspectives, but when it comes to whistleblower protections, they all share a common goal of preserving and strengthening the workers' right to raise concerns without fear of reprisal." The full letter is available here.