How to File a Whistleblower Complaint | Mann & Elias

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When you've been retaliated against at your place of employment, you have the right to file a whistleblower complaint. This is a complaint that is filed with OSHA or the Occupational Safety And Health Administration. This type of complaint is enforced on both the state and federal levels to provide you with restitution in various forms for the retaliation.

What Is A Whistleblower?

On the basis of this lawsuit is the term whistleblower. This can be used to describe any person that reveals evidence of fraud or misconduct against a company. This person doesn't have to be an employee or former employee of the company. However, in many cases they are. Think of whistleblowers as doing the right thing and reporting businesses that are not operating legally.

What Types Of Instances Can A Whistleblower Report?


Any employment attorney in Los Angeles will tell you that businesses can break the law in many different ways. Understanding some prime examples can help you to determine if what you've seen or heard is actually illegal or not. These include:

  • A company is cheating on taxes.
  • The company is creating a public danger.
  • The company has broken a law.
  • A government contractor is misusing government funds.

What Is Retaliation?


Reporting when a company is acting in the wrong is a necessary part of being a U.S. citizen. However, it's not unheard of for employers to retaliate against whistleblowers that work for them. This could come in many different forms such as unfair firings, demotions, mistreatment, and transferring. An informant attorney in Los Angeles will even reveal that some companies reported may blacklist whistleblowers that are not under their employment to retaliate against the claims.

How Do You File A Complaint?


If you would like to file a whistleblower complaint against a company, then you can do so in four different ways. It's always a good idea to enlist the help of a lawyer to assist you throughout the process. Let's take a look at each different way you can go about filing a whistleblower complaint.

Online

This is by far the most popular means of reporting a complaint. It allows you to submit the information directly to OSHA via a complaint form.

Email/Mail/Fax

If you're not comfortable submitting the information online, you can do so via mail. This includes traditional post mail, fax, and email. You'll need to describe the complaint and submit an Online Whistleblower Complaint Form. This form can be found online or at your local OSHA office.

Telephone

If you would rather speak to an OSHA representative about the situation, then you can do so. Simply call up your local OSHA regional office. They will listen to your complaint and ask any necessary questions.

In Person

Lastly, if you would feel more comfortable talking to someone face-to-face, you can do so via your local OSHA office. You may need to call ahead of time to schedule an appointment. It's best to give them a call before heading in to ensure they'll be ready to take your complaint.

How Long Do You Have To File A Complaint?


When it comes to whistleblower complaints, you have a set period of time that you can file your complaint. This timeline is based on the individual statute that your complaint is regarding. There are currently more than 20 different whistleblower statutes that you can file a complaint under.

When we're talking about a timeframe, you need to know the proper start date. In whistleblower complaints, this start date is the date that the adverse action happened. For example, if you were fired, then that would be the date that starts your time period for filing. Let's take a look at a couple of examples from each time frame so that you better understand how quickly you need to react.

180 Days
  • Affordable Care Act
  • FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
  • Federal Railroad Safety Act
90 Days
  • Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act
  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
60 Days
  • International Safe Container Act
30 Days
  • Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act
  • Clean Air Act

What Happens Once You File Your Complaint?


Regardless of how you file your whistleblower complaint, you'll need to submit it alongside your contact information. This way, an OSHA representative can reach out to you about the investigation. There will be an initial interview after you submit the complaint. If you submit it in person, it's likely the interview may happen within minutes of the complaint submission.

The Initial Interview

During this initial interview, the OSHA representative will retain information and evidence about the retaliation. Their job is to determine whether or not the allegation that you're claiming is adequate for doing a further investigation. It must be clear that a law was broken for the complaint to be valid. You may request to have your attorney to present for your initial interview to help get your point across to the OSHA interviewer.

Evidence Gathering

If your complaint is deemed valid, your case will be assigned to an OSHA investigator. This person is responsible for gathering evidence regarding your claim and the situation that went down. Their first step will be to notify both you and the respondent of the complaint that there is an open investigation.

It's a good idea to talk about the type of evidence that you should hang onto with your lawyer. This may be documentation like contracts, text messages, and emails This information can be submitted to the investigator to help your case. During this time, the company is authorized to write a formal letter of defense for the allegations against them.

Settling / Conclusion

At any point throughout the investigation, you may reach a settlement with the company. If you don't settle, OSHA will make a conclusion to both parties regarding the complaint. It may be that the company must pay back wages to the employee or must promote them back into their original position. You should always enlist the help of an experienced lawyer before making a decision, as they have your best interests in mind.

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