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Did Reporting a Workplace Hazard Result in Employer Retaliation?

WorkSafety

Has your employer retaliated against you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim or reported a safety hazard? Studies show that retaliation claims are on the rise in this country, so you would not be the first person to wonder if what you’re experiencing is real or imagined. If you think unfair practices are holding you back, a good personal injury attorney may be worth looking into.

Under Reporting Workplace Accidents 

The truth is that roughly 100 state and federal courts have been dealing with cases related to retaliation in the workplace last year alone. Some contend that employers are doing everything possible to discourage workers from reporting injuries and hazards, and that employees who do report suffer in the aftermath. While safety measures have helped to reduce accident rates in the workplace over the past decade, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concedes that accidents will still occur, and they are most often the result of unsafe working conditions, not employee carelessness. If the accident necessitates a prescription or other medical care, it should be reported without fear of retaliation. And if a hazard threatens worker safety, OSHA should be notified so that an inspection can take place.

Filing Health/Safety Complaints 

When a worker believes that a workplace hazard exists, OSHA provides a number of ways to report potential OSHA compliance violations:

  • Online: A simple online form is available on the OSHA website;
  • Mail or Fax: Workers may download a complaint form and return it to the Regional or Area OSHA office;
  • Phone: A quick call to the Regional or Area OSHA office is a good idea in the event of an emergency or life-threatening hazard.

What does Retaliation Look Like? 

Employer retaliation can rear its ugly head in a number of ways, and oftentimes appears as a type of discrimination that presents itself in unfavorable job actions:

  • Layoffs and firings;
  • Limited severance packages;
  • Demotions or lateral moves that are unwanted;
  • Loss of opportunity to promote;
  • Suspensions;
  • Poor performance ratings that do not reflect true performance;
  • Unfavorable job referrals;
  • Ostracism, gossip, and generally unpleasant social conditions.

You are Protected by Law 

Laws protect employees who experience retaliation in the form of harassment or discrimination for reporting safety issues. Remedies may include:

  • Orders to stop the retaliatory actions;
  • Compensatory damages related to expenses accrued as a result of the retaliation (such as job-hunting costs);
  • Punitive damages to prompt the employer to change behaviors/attitude;
  • Compensatory damages related to mental/emotional pain and suffering;
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs.

Moving Forward 

Are you working in an unsafe environment, but reluctant to report hazards because you fear retaliation from your boss? Have you already filed a concern, or a workers’ compensation claim, and are currently experiencing harassment or discrimination? If so, let the experienced team at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian help. We will fight for justice on your behalf. Contact our Tampa office today.

Resource:

uswtmc.org/latest/news/WSJ-Workplace-Injuries-Drop-but-Claims-of-Employer-Retaliation-Rise1.pdf

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