As an employer, you simply can’t make the mistake of retaliating against a worker that submits a complaint against you with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Federal law protects your employees against acts of retaliation, whether made internally or to a relevant government agency. Your workers have the right to report unsafe workplaces, and no business owner is protected from their own negligence.

In this brief article, an OSHA lawyer will discuss how the new Taxpayer First Act (TFA) affects the way retaliation complaints are handled by OSHA. This statute was signed into law on July 1, 2019, allowing OSHA to manage worker retaliation complaints against employers under the TFA. Remember, to protect your business from safety violations, consult our OSHA lawyers.

What You Need to Know

Under the TFA, OSHA has the ability to investigate retaliatory actions made against employees that have submitted a complaint. OSHA can investigate a number of different complaints, including those related to:

  • Underpayment of tax
  • Violations of internal revenue laws
  • Violations of federal laws dealing with tax fraud to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or any other federal entity listed in the TFA, such as a supervisor or other employee that has the ability to investigate, discover, or eliminate misconduct.
  • Employees testifying, assisting, or otherwise taking part in any form of administrative or judicial action with the IRS. For example, an investigation looking into the alleged underpayment of tax, violation of internal revenue law, or violation of any federal law dealing with tax fraud.

How Complaints Are Processed

For now, OSHA will process all TFA whistleblower complaints in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 49 U.S.C. § 42121. This process is likely to change once an interim final rule is issued, as this complaint procedure is intended to deal specifically with cases involving the aviation industry. That said, this procedure currently serves as a satisfactory method for handling complaints.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

According to OSHA, the Whistleblower Protection Program is designed to enforce the more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees in the United States. This program supports employees in a wide variety of industries by protecting their right to file complaints related to workplace safety and health and a myriad of other considerations. As a business owner, you must allow your workers to submit complaints if they feel doing so is justified. You can prevent complaints by focusing on workplace safety, implementing training programs, educating workers, making safety a central component of your workplace culture, and consulting an OSHA lawyer.

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.