To call out an injustice or to shine a light on illegal acts by your company can lead to a lot of stress and uncertainty. As a whistleblower, you have rights that your supervisors and employers cannot restrict.
According to OSHA, your employer cannot retaliate against you for being a whistleblower. If you face retaliation, you have every right to file a whistleblower complaint. Once you file a complaint, an investigation may ensue.
How can you prepare for the investigation?
When you file a complaint, OSHA interviews information about the retaliation. You have to provide enough information to show you have a valid reason to suspect retaliation. OSHA will look to the whistleblower protection statutes and determine whether an investigation is necessary.
During the investigation, a neutral party notifies you, the respondent and any federal agency about the investigation. Make sure you have any potential evidence about the allegations. Keep all communication between you and the respondent. For example, organize your emails, notes, texts messages, personnel files, and other information to show the investigator. If you have witnesses on your side, give the investigator their contact information.
During the investigation, both parties actively communicate with OSHA. The respondent will have to write a defense against your claim. In some cases, parties may decide to settle the retaliation before the investigation completes itself.
What happens following the investigation?
After the investigation, the investigator determines whether retaliation occurred. He or she reports to a supervisor about the evidence and may suggest remedies for the situation. You and the respondent will receive a letter about the findings. If your employer faces dismissal, he or she can object.
When it comes to OSHA investigations, you and the respondent both have rights to representation.