The well-being of employees in any establishment hinges upon the safety of their work environment. Encounters with hazardous materials, lack of proper safety gear, or exposure to toxic substances can leave a lasting impact on an individual’s health. Progress has been made through laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to fortify workplace security in the United States. However, some businesses still cut corners on safety measures to reduce costs or inadvertently put their workers at risk.
Workers often face a dilemma: should they file a complaint and potentially jeopardize their job, or remain silent at the risk of their health? Fortunately, there are legal safeguards that provide a safety net for employees faced with such predicaments. Federal laws and various state legislations ensure that employees who lodge safety complaints are protected.
California’s Protective Measures for Whistleblowers
In California, whistleblowers are fortified by statutes that shield them from retaliatory actions when they report workplace health and safety hazards. Under California Labor Code 6310, it’s unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who voice violations of occupational health and safety regulations to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
This protection extends to prevent discrimination against family members of the whistleblowing employees. Given that California operates under at-will employment laws, employers retain the right to dismiss employees for almost any reason. However, termination becomes unlawful if it’s in response to an employee’s safety complaint, whether it’s filed with governmental bodies or internally within the company.
The Spectrum of Retaliation Beyond Termination
It’s crucial to understand that retaliation can take forms other than outright dismissal. Constructive termination is one such form, where employers create intolerable work conditions, compelling an employee to resign. Other retaliatory actions might include demotions, denial of promotions, refusal of necessary training, or withholding resources essential for job performance. Any such action could constitute retaliation.
If you find yourself facing retaliation or constructive termination after filing a safety complaint, consulting with an employment law attorney can clarify your next steps.
Understanding Your Legal Routes
For employees who’ve been dismissed or faced retaliation for raising safety concerns, legal action against the employer is an option. There are protocols to follow before initiating a lawsuit, and these vary based on whether the claim is taken to federal or state court.
Consulting with a wrongful termination attorney is crucial. They can assist in deciding whether litigation is advisable and ensure that all procedural steps are observed. Given the time-sensitive nature of these claims, it’s essential to seek legal advice promptly.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of unfair retaliation due to whistleblowing, it’s imperative to act swiftly. Contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 to explore your legal options and safeguard your rights as a California worker.