OSHA is becoming very active in the day to day operations of a business, especially in the enforcement of employees’ rights. An area that is surfacing in the business is OSHA’s enforcement of the whistleblower statute. It may not be well-known, but OSHA oversees whistleblower protection investigations not only for its own jurisdiction, but for 12 other regulatory areas.
If an employee in a practice reports a violation of Federal law (OSHA, Labor, etc.), the employee report and the violation of federal law (e.g., an OSHA complaint) is protected from retaliation by the business owner. An innocent personnel action taken by a business owner may be seen as a whistleblower retaliation by OSHA.
The following actions by a practice owner may be considered retaliatory action, and be a violation of Federal law:
❒ Firing or laying off an employee
❒ Assigning employee to undesirable shifts
❒ Blacklisting the employee
❒ Demoting the employee
❒ Denying the overtime or promotion to the employee
❒ Disciplining the employee
❒ Denial of benefits to the employee
❒ Intimidation by the practice owner
❒ Reassigning work to the employee
❒ Reducing pay or hours of the employee
It is strongly recommended that before any personnel matters are handled by a business owner or office manager, it is always prudent to seek professional guidance in order to avoid violation of state or federal law.
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for businesses including transitions and sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, employment law and entity formation.
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