Whistleblower protection for environmental workers

| Nov 26, 2019 | Firm News |

When Michigan workers realize their company is violating environmental regulations, they may want to speak up immediately. However, some people might worry about what will happen if their company starts retaliating for this action. It is important for people to understand the protections they have as a whistleblower.

There are numerous federal laws that protect whistleblowers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that federal laws concerning water pollution, clean air and asbestos offer protection to both federal and private employees. This protection means that employers cannot retaliate against their employees when a whistleblower testifies in court or provides information about a potentially dangerous situation. Additionally, employers cannot retaliate when an employee assists with an investigation or tells an employer about potential violations of environmental law.

People may interpret whistleblower protection in many ways. Sometimes people may refuse to work if they know their job duties are contributing to a dangerous situation. In other situations, they may refuse to let other employees use certain equipment. These are protected actions under federal whistleblower laws.

While whistleblowers know they have these federal protections, they may still worry about experiencing retaliation at work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, retaliation means that an employer either performs or threatens to perform an adverse action if an employee speaks up. It is important for people to know what these adverse actions consist of. Many people may know they cannot lose their job for being a whistleblower. However, many other types of behavior are forms of employer retaliation. If an employer refuses to give benefits to an employee or withholds overtime payments, this is a form of retaliation. Retaliation also occurs if an employer reduces the number of hours a person works each week or does not allow an employee to take part in work training. Ostracizing employees is also a form of retaliation.