New OSHA form helps whistleblowers

Arizona workers may be interested to know that OSHA has a new online whistleblower complaint form. The goal of the form is to ensure that complaints are directed at the right agencies, which may increase the odds of a timely investigation.

Employers are obligated to provide workers with a safe and healthy work environment as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970. They are not allowed to retaliate against workers who partake in protected actions such as reporting an injury or raising safety concerns. Typically, a worker has 30 to 180 days to make a complaint. The new form asks a series of questions such as whether or not a worker has suffered an adverse action or when the most recent one occurred. After a question is answered, workers are guided to additional questions or given additional information as to where their complaints should go.

Examples of adverse actions include terminating a worker or demoting a worker because he or she engaged in a protected activity. An adverse action may also include blacklisting an individual, reducing his or her hours and pay or making threats toward an employee. The form is available in English and in Spanish, and OSHA provides additional information about whistleblowing at whistleblowers.gov.

Workers who face illegal workplace discrimination may have the ability to take legal action against their employers. This may include seeking compensation for lost income or other benefits related to termination or a demotion. In some cases, workers may be reinstated to their former positions with full pay and benefits. An attorney can review the case to determine if a worker was harassed or discriminated against because of being a whistleblower.

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