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What if an employer retaliates for reporting an OSHA violation?

All too often, unsafe working conditions go unreported. Employees may feel that their employer will retaliate against them if they raise an issue; many have faced punishment ranging from reduced hours or being skipped for a promotion to being denied benefits or even fired. What can Denver workers do when faced with retaliation for trying to prevent a workplace accident or correct a possible OSHA violation on the job?

One step that can be taken is reporting the situation using OSHA's online whistleblower complaint form, accessible via the agency's website at the link below. The online form is for employees who have reported an OSHA violation or done something similarly protected by federal whistleblower laws, and when their employer learned about it, took some kind of punitive measure against the employee based on the report or other action. Once a complaint is submitted, the agency will reach out to the employee directly and may decide to launch an investigation.

Note that, because OSHA must be able to contact you, you must provide your name and contact information -- you cannot submit an anonymous whistleblower complaint. However, you should not use any coworkers' names in your complaint, because the complaint will have to be shared with the employer if OSHA does investigate. The employer will have a chance to tell their side of the story, and the employee will be able to provide evidence (including coworkers' testimony) during the investigation.

Ideally, Denver employers would understand their obligation to maintain a safe working environment, and cooperate with employees to address safety concerns before an injury occurs. But OSHA can help protect employees' rights when faced with retaliation for reporting safety issues, and a legal professional can help them secure financial support if such a safety issue does lead to a workplace injury.

Source: OSHA.gov, "OSHA Online Whistleblower Complaint Form," accessed on Nov. 4, 2017

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