OSHA's online retaliation complaint form gets an update

Retaliation is unfortunately often used by Indiana employers to threaten and silence their workers on a wide range of topics including workplace safety. Such actions as demotion or wrongful termination are illegal, and OSHA and other federal agencies have the authority to investigate complaints and protect whistleblowers in specific circumstances. OSHA now provides an online form with special features for employees to report retaliation.

The new complaint form uses worker answers to direct complaints to the appropriate federal agency. The system shows questions based on user response to the last question. Both English and Spanish formats are available. OSHA provides protection for workers against retaliation as a response to some worker actions, such as reporting unsafe working conditions. Pop-up boxes will alert users when another agency has jurisdiction over different protected activities, such as reporting unlawful discrimination.

The new form does not change the amount of time an employee has to file a retaliation complaint, which can be between 30 and 180 days depending on the relevant agency and protected activity. Workers who have faced any retaliation, including denial of benefits, coercive threats or loss of promotion opportunities, could use the OSHA form to find information about the federal agency with jurisdiction over their complaint.

A retaliation complaint is often a critical concern for employees who may face financial hardship due to employer actions. The revised complaint format with more information specific to a worker's complaint will certainly be helpful. However, workers will still want to research and establish contact with relevant agencies early on to prevent missing important deadlines. An attorney with experience in employment law may be able to help pursue complaints in a timely manner and recover compensation for clients who have been adversely affected.

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