Perhaps you work as a brick mason for a construction company that has recently come under new management.
You recognized a hazardous situation and raised the issue with your supervisor who responded by giving you a low performance evaluation.
A little background
The new owners of the construction company you work for like to cut corners and you notice that your supervisor does not always pay attention to the safety issues outlined under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When you informed him about a scaffolding hazard, he became defensive. He also gave you a low rating on your next performance review.
An employer certainly has the right to discipline an employee for a non-retaliatory reason. However, in addition to giving an employee a performance evaluation that should be higher, retaliation could include:
- Transferring the employee to a less desirable position
- Engaging in physical or verbal abuse
- Increasing scrutiny over the employee’s work
- Making the employee’s work more difficult
- Spreading false rumors
The OSH Act
OSHA enforces safety and health standards in the workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. Employees can exercise their rights under the Act free from retaliation by employers. The Act protects employees who file an OSHA complaint, participate in a safety inspection, report an injury, raise a safety complaint with the employer or request access to company safety exposure and injury records.
If your employer knows about a hazard such as you have described but does nothing to resolve it, OSHA regards this as a serious matter and could fine the company up to $13,653 for a single violation. Legal guidance is available if you wish to pursue what appears to be retaliatory action against you for reporting the hazard.