– Whistleblowers covered by one of 22 statutes
administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health
Administration will now be able to file complaints online. The online form will
provide workers who have been retaliated against an additional way to reach out
for OSHA assistance online.
The new online form prompts the worker to include basic
whistleblower complaint information so they can be easily contacted for
follow-up. Complaints are automatically routed to the appropriate regional
whistleblower investigators. In addition, the complaint form can also be
downloaded and submitted to the agency in hard-copy format by fax, mail or
hand-delivery. The paper version is identical to the electronic version and
requests the same information necessary to initiate a whistleblower investigation.
Unlike some other government websites that have been in the news recently, this one at least opens.
If you are now curious about the form, click here
It will be interesting to see how quickly individuals learn of this availability and what happens with the number of complaints. The discrimination/retaliation section is unusual because the individual does not have to designate which statute the complaint is filed under, nor is there any description of what the 22 laws cover.
On the information
you are suggested to read before completing the form, OSHA says what is going to happen when the complaint is submitted:
Upon receipt of a complaint, OSHA will contact the complainant to determine whether to conduct an investigation. It is very important that a complainant respond to such contact; if a complainant is unresponsive, OSHA cannot proceed with an investigation and the complaint will be dismissed. If OSHA proceeds with an investigation, the complainant will have an opportunity to offer documents and other evidence in support of the complaint, and the employer will be notified of the allegation and permitted to submit a response.
OSHA does include this admonition:
BY LAW, A COMPLAINANT'S INFORMATION, INCLUDING HIS/HER IDENTITY, MUST BE PROVIDED TO THE EMPLOYER. A WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT FILED WITH OSHA CANNOT BE FILED ANONYMOUSLY.
The announced intention is that everyone who submits a form will be contacted by OSHA.
This is going to be interesting; for employers, not necessarily in a good way.