The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP) plays a vital role in protecting workers from employers who cut corners on safety or who violate other federal laws: It protects those workers who report such abuses from retaliation, making it harder for employers to get away with breaking the law. Or at least that's how it's supposed to work. The 23 separate federal statutes the program encompasses cover a wide range of corporate wrongdoing, including violations of clean air and drinking water standards, food safety standards, workplace health and safety standards, and much more. If an employer retaliates against an employee for taking any of the actions covered by these laws, the employee may file a retaliation complaint with OSHA for investigation.
OSHA's WPP is critical for ensuring workers have safe and healthy workplaces where they can raise concerns without fear of retaliation. But unless the agency adequately enforces the whistleblower protection laws, employers may continue to abuse the law with minimal risk of penalty, and employees will never fully trust in the whistleblower protections those laws provide.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in workplaces across the nation, the policy goals of the WPP are …
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 …
Today, the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed by CPR President Rena Steinzor and Public Justice Center attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher entitled, "Maryland's whistleblower laws need teeth."
According to the piece:
Whistleblowers can help identify and put a stop to all sorts of illegal activity, if they're properly protected. Dozens of state and federal laws include provisions intended to shield whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by employers who have been outed. But this piecemeal approach, with different laws enforced by different agencies, is too complicated and has too many holes.
To take the load off of overburdened state investigators, Marylanders need a new law that gives whistleblowers the right to sue employers who retaliate. A comprehensive law with that fail-safe mechanism would be an invaluable tool for promoting better practices at worksites across the state because it would encourage workers to raise red flags when their employers skirt the …