The Whistleblower Protection Program prohibits employers from terminating employees in retaliation for reporting violations. As noted on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Whistleblowers.gov website, typical unlawful situations employees may report without fear of reprisal include workplace safety and health issues.
An employee may, for example, inform his or her company’s management that a job site poses a danger to its workers. An employer must then respond to the report by taking action to minimize the risk of harm. Taking action against the employee for reporting the situation is unlawful.
Employers have a responsibility to respond to a range of unlawful activity reports
Employees may bring to their supervisors’ attention a need to provide personal protective equipment or cleaning a hazardous spill. Reporting environmental concerns, such as exposure to asbestos, requires an employer to take action.
When an employee reports it, companies must also respond to product contamination issues, fraudulent activities and broken equipment. In addition to termination, federal law forbids retaliation through negative performance reviews, reduced work hours or pay cuts.
Pennsylvania company sued for retaliation
A suit filed against a Pennsylvania manufacturer claims the company wrongfully terminated an employee for reporting concerns. As reported by Insurance Journal, the employee reported a safety issue regarding an industrial machine and asked for gloves to protect against injury. His supervisor denied the request.
The employee also reported the issue during an OSHA investigation. The supervisor, however, continued to deny further requests for safety gloves. The worker experienced an injury while operating the machine followed by a wrongful termination for reporting his concerns.
Employees have a right to work in safe and healthy environments. When worksites pose a danger, employers must remedy the problem. Wrongfully firing an employee who reports an issue or participates in a government investigation may require legal action to recover damages.