Q: Can my employer retaliate against me for reporting unsafe workplace conditions?
No. You have the right to report safety hazards at work, without the fear of employer retaliation. Workers may report safety violations to both their employer and to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Workplace Safety Requirements
OSHA regulations guarantee employees the right to a safe work environment, and employers have the responsibility to provide one. To protect workers, employers must:
- Post an OSHA work safety notice in the workplace.
- Provide safety training as needed.
- Maintain a record of injuries, deaths, and exposure to hazardous materials.
- Maintain a workplace free of health and safety hazards that could lead to serious injuries or death.
Forms of Retaliation
Texas is an employment-at-will state, which generally means that an employer can terminate a worker for any reason, or for no reason at all. However, employees are protected from retaliation for reporting health and safety violations, assisting in an OSHA investigation, or reporting an injury. Retaliation occurs when an employer penalizes a worker for participating in a legally protected activity. Your employer cannot fire you, demote you, reduce your pay, or deny you a raise or promotion simply because you filed a complaint regarding unsafe work conditions.
Building a Retaliation Case
A determination of employer retaliation can lead to reinstatement to your former position and an order for compensation for lost wages. If you believe you’ve been retaliated against, you’ll need to demonstrate that your safety complaint led to your employer’s retaliatory behavior. To do so, save any documents or communications that show your employer’s satisfaction with your work performance prior to your complaint, along with proof of the retaliatory behavior. This proof may be in the form of negative statements made by your employer, or an unusually harsh punishment for your supposed wrongdoing. Next, contact an experienced attorney in order to ensure that your rights are protected. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.