Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

What If I Get Fired for Making a Complaint About Safety Violations to OSHA?

By Dan Atkerson on June 27, 2016

Engineer Showing Apprentice How to Use Drill In FactoryAs an employee, your safety should be on the top of an employer’s list of priorities. When it’s not, however, you may be forced to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly referred to as OSHA.

OSHA is a government-run program tasked with enforcing various safety and protection laws for employees. Not only are they responsible for finding and disciplining employers who violate regulations, but they also offer a number of protections to employees who “blow the whistle.”

What is a Whistleblower?

Put simply, a whistleblower is an employee who discovers and reports criminal activity, safety violations, and other lapses at their place of employment. Whistleblowers are often targeted by their employers once they’ve filed a complaint, which is why workplace retaliation laws exist.

What is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation happens when an employer takes action against an employee that has a negative impact on that person’s life. For example, if you were fired for making a complaint about safety violations to OSHA, you may have a strong case for wrongful termination and workplace retaliation.

Being fired isn’t the only form of workplace retaliation. OSHA also protects you from other negative actions, such as:

  • Demotion
  • Harassment
  • Shift changes
  • Relocation
  • Denying overtime
  • Leaving you out of meetings
  • Pay or hour cuts
The actions taken against you may not even be considered negative to another person to constitute retaliation. For example, if an employer moves an employee from the morning shift to an afternoon shift, it may not affect them much, but if you get moved to the afternoon shift, you won’t be able pick up your kids from school and spend time with them; that action could be considered retaliation.

Under no circumstances should you have to tolerate safety violations, and certainly not workplace retaliation for making a complaint. An employment attorney can help you determine the best course of action going forward if an employer retaliates against you.

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