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Protecting whistleblowers from retaliation

Employees in New York may benefit from learning more about whistleblower protections guaranteed by Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. There are several laws in place that the OHSA can cite when penalizing employers who retaliate against whistleblowers. Retaliation can be described as protected employee activity that proves to be a contributing factor to an unfavorable personnel action conducted by an employer.

Some of the actions that may be considered to be retaliation include demotions, blacklisting, intimidation, pay or work-schedule reductions, or termination. Other forms of discipline might also be perceived as retaliation, including failure to hire or rehire, reassignment, denying overtime, denying benefits or denying a promotion. Employees who feel victimized by retaliation may benefit from filing a complaint with the OSHA in a timely manner. The amount of time the victimized employee will have to file a claim depends on the act that the retaliation violates. Violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act must be filed within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.

There are several different mandates that provide whistleblowers with protection from retaliation by employers. The Surface Transportation Act, Federal Rail Safety Act, National transit Systems Security Act, Energy Organization Act and Pipeline Safety Improvement Act afford whistleblowers 180 days to file a complaint with the appropriate parties. Other acts may allow whistleblowers 30 days or 90 days to file a claim. Typically, whistleblowers can file these complaints by telephone or writing, depending on which act is violated.

Employees who are victimized by retaliation from employers typically benefit from confiding in legal counsel. Lawyers may be equipped to investigate the allegations and the complaints in an effort to determine if the employer or any other parties can be found liable for damages, negligence or misconduct. Lawyers may also be effective at protecting employees from wrongful termination.

Source: Findlaw, "OSHA Whistleblower Protection", December 02, 2014

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