It may be easy for workers in Wauwatosa to give their employers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a company's commitment to employee safety (after all, everyone wants to believe that their employers put their well-being above all else). Yet another motivating factor as to why so many seemingly let their employers off the hook for safety violations may exist: fear. Many may fear that should word get out that they turned their companies in to corporate regulatory agencies, they will be retaliated against. Fortunately, the law does not allow for that.
Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, federal laws exist prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who file whistleblower claims. Links to the various statutes that provide whistleblower protection across different industries can be found on OSHA's website. Listed alongside them are the timely filing limit requirements for each law (most range between 30-180 days). It should be noted that the timely filing period begins on the date the retaliatory action occurred, not the date the employer was first reported. Thus, a company cannot simply wait until a timely filing period has passed from the date of an incident (or a reporting date) to retaliate against whomever reported it.
Still, time is of the essence when one finds him or herself in need of whistleblower protection. That requires understanding what retaliatory actions are. Obvious ones include being fired or demoted. OSHA's Whistleblower Fact sheet list more subtle ones to be:
- Being denied promotion (blacklisted)
- Being denied benefits
- An employer failing to renew an employment contract
- Having work hours reduced
Any who have experienced these or other actions that may be considered retaliatory should report them to OSHA officials immediately.