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Retaliation and OSHA: What do you need to know?

As an employee, there are laws in place to protect your rights. This includes those associated with employer retaliation.

According to federal and state laws, employers are not permitted to retaliate against a worker as the result of reporting a workplace safety violation. Even so, some forms of retaliation, such as terminating employment or a demotion, continue to occur.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in place to enforce and promote safety standards. In short, employers are required to provide workers with a safe environment. They have the responsibility of warning employees about potential dangers, reporting all injuries, and providing the appropriate training.

If an employee comes across a safety hazard, he or she has the right to discuss this with the employer and/or report the violation to OSHA.

OSHA makes it clear that an employer is not permitted to take part in any retaliatory measures if an employee files a safety complaint, speaks to an OSHA investigator, or assists in any part of an investigation. It is this law that gives employees the ability to feel safe about their job should they speak up regarding a violation.

Even with federal and state retaliatory laws in place, some employers make the decision to retaliate against an employee for speaking out with regard to a safety violation. For one reason or another, they believe they should be allowed to take action against an employee who was simply trying to improve the safety of the company. If this happens, the worker may wish to learn more about their options for fighting back against the company.

Source: FindLaw, "Employee Safety and Retaliation," accessed Aug. 04, 2015

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