Workers in New York who report illegal practices or unsafe work conditions are protected under federal law. All employers are required to provide a safe working environment, and employees can inform OSHA of any situation that could potentially lead to workers’ compensation claims.
Some employees may think their job could be in jeopardy if they bring up any complaint about management’s lack of safety considerations. However, the Chronicle states there are OSHA regulations that protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Under OSHA rules, an employer cannot fire the employee, discipline or demote them or cut hours or pay. In fact, if the employer does make threatening comments or harasses the employee in regard to the complaint, the worker can fill out another grievance with OSHA. However, if the employee has another valid reason, such as lackluster job performance, for letting the employee go the employee is not protected by federal law.
Protection for whistleblowers extends beyond just reporting unsafe working conditions. According to The Hill, OSHA protects workers who report about employers who violate the healthcare reform law. Some of the violations may include not allowing coverage for applicants with pre-existing conditions, denying tax credits or not offering affordable plans. Employers who are found to be in violation may face monetary fines and/or tax penalties, which may lead to retaliation against the whistleblower.
If the employer retaliates against the complaining worker, the employee has 180 days to file a complaint with the Department of Labor. An investigation will then follow, which includes interviewing the employer, employee and other workers.