Retaliation for Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions

By Gregory Thyberg on December 12, 2020


interior of a large warehouseEmployees deserve to work in safe places with hospitable conditions. When employers fail to look after the safety of their workers, employees should feel free to speak out about the health hazards at their workplace. When employers take action against their employees for exercising this right, wrongful termination lawyer Gregory A. Thyberg can help.

Our Sacramento, CA, law firm has helped numerous clients who’ve faced retaliation for reporting unsafe work conditions. Our team would like to discuss whistleblower protection laws and also cite examples of workplace retaliation so you know what to look out for.

Employees Should Not Feel Afraid to Report Dangerous Conditions

We should note at the outset that employees should not feel intimidated about reporting unsafe conditions or practices at their workplace. The acts of whistleblowers can save lives and bring about necessary industry-wide reforms.

If your employer is in violation of OSHA standards, exposes you and co-workers to hazardous materials, or forces employees to work longer hours than permitted by law, these acts need to be reported to the proper authorities.

Legal Protections for Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers have legal protection when speaking out about harmful work conditions and other labor violations. California Labor Code Section 1102.5 protects employees from retaliation by their employer for whistleblowing and a variety of other actions related to reporting the conditions of their workplace.

At the federal level, whistleblowers also have legal protections to hold agencies and officials accountable. The Whistleblower Protection Act was signed into law in 1989, protecting federal employees for reporting waste, mismanagement, and abuse. These federal protections were strengthened in 2012 by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

Examples of Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation for whistleblowing can take many forms. Some of the most common examples of retaliation against whistleblowers include:

  • Firing/termination
  • Demotion
  • Preventing promotion or denying a raise
  • Relocation (e.g., from Sacramento to a different part of the state)
  • Changing hours/work schedule
  • Reduced salary/wages
  • Poor performance reviews
  • Creating a hostile work environment

Proving You Were the Victim of Workplace Retaliation

Proving that your employer retaliated against you can be difficult. If faced any actions that feel like a reprisal, be sure to ask your supervisors about the reason for their actions. If they cannot provide a satisfactory answer, it may be a sign of retaliation.

Keep in mind that not all acts of retaliation are as simple as being fired after reporting a safety violation. For example, say that your supervisor cut your hours after you reported unsafe working conditions. Other employees may also face a similar reduction in hours. However, if you are the sole employee who has had their hours reduced, that could be a sign of retaliation.

What to Do if You Suspect Workplace Retaliation

Whatever form the retaliation takes, be sure to document the incident and hold on to all correspondence with your employer or supervisor. This communication can be reviewed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the State of California Department of Industrial Relations. This documentation can then be reviewed by an employment law attorney to see if you have a case worth pursuing.

How Our Law Firm Helps Work Safety Whistleblowers

Attorney Gregory A. Thyberg will review the circumstances of your case and determine if you’ve been the victim of workplace retaliation. He will work tirelessly to ensure a formal retaliation complaint reaches the proper agencies so your employer can be held accountable for their actions. He will not hesitate to take the case to trial, and will help clients seek front pay, back pay, and other legal damages for the hardships their employer has caused.

Contact an Employment Law Attorney

If you live in the greater Sacramento area and need to discuss a legal matter with an employment law attorney, contact Thyberg Law online. You can also schedule a consultation by phone at (916) 204-9173.

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