OSHA Whistleblower Protection


An employee cannot sue an employer for demotion, termination, or other adverse employment actions after the employee reports a violation of OSHA regulations because there is no private right of action against an employer for retaliatory discharge.  However, an employee who feels retaliated against can file a complaint with the U.S. Labor Department under the federal statute below.  Note that an employee only has thirty days from the date of the employer’s action to file the complaint.  Also, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut statutes protect whistleblowers more comprehensively.  An employee can probably sue an employer under state law for retaliation following the employee’s report of an OSHA violation.  Contact Muller Law to see how these statutes apply to your situation.

29 USCS § 660(c) Discharge or discrimination against employee for exercise of rights under 29 USCS §§ 651 et seq.; prohibition; procedure for relief.
(1) No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding or because of the exercise by such employee on behalf of himself or others of any right afforded by this Act.
(2) Any employee who believes that he has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation of this subsection may, within thirty days after such violation occurs, file a complaint with the Secretary alleging such discrimination. Upon receipt of such complaint, the Secretary shall cause such investigation to be made as he deems appropriate. If upon such investigation, the Secretary determines that the provisions of this subsection have been violated, he shall bring an action in any appropriate United States district court against such person. In any such action the United States district courts shall have jurisdiction, for cause shown to restrain violations of paragraph (1) of this subsection and order all appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement of the employee to his former position with back pay.
(3) Within 90 days of the receipt of a complaint filed under this subsection the Secretary shall notify the complainant of his determination under paragraph (2) of this subsection.