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New OSHA online complaint form streamlines whistleblowing process

Employees in Florida and other states across the nation may want to know more about an announcement made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in July regarding updates to its online whistleblower complaint form. According to one OSHA official, workers may file complaints with increased confidence because the appropriate federal agencies will now receive filings and respond to them in a more timely manner.

Available in two languages, the revised form leads employees through a series of questions concerning any retaliation that they may have experienced as a result of reporting safety concerns, injuries or protected actions. The revised reporting system includes pop-up boxes that some workers may find helpful in the event that a filing is to be addressed by an agency other than OSHA.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to follow workplace safety procedures, and employees who report violations are protected from adverse actions by several whistleblower statutes. Such retaliatory actions include termination, demotion, denying benefits, and blacklisting. Retaliation in the form of disciplining, intimidating or harassing, failing to hire or rehire, making threats, reassigning in a way that affects prospects for promotion, and reducing pay or hours is also prohibited.

Workers have a limited amount of time to file a complaint following an alleged adverse action. In Florida, an employee who has experienced retaliation after filing a workers' compensation claim or taking advantage of another protected right in the workplace may find it beneficial to discuss the situation with a lawyer who offers workers' comp retaliation attorney assistance. Once retained, the lawyer could thoroughly investigate the case and work to ensure that the client's rights are upheld under all applicable state and federal laws.

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