As Covid-19 continues to sweep across the United States, thousands of health and safety workers, as well as other essential personnel, have reported unsafe working conditions under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). A law aimed at ensuring a safe work environment for all workers within the United States.
By creating this Act, Congress recognized the need for protecting whistleblowers, but over time these protections have proven to be inadequate. Today, workers must choose between losing their job or becoming sick from Covid-19. Those that do come forward have just one reporting channel – one that has failed to ensure complaints are heard, and retaliation is prevented.
Currently, workers are unable to file their cases in court. They must report their claim to the Department of Labor, putting the outcome of their case in the hands of government officials and leaving them unprotected from retaliation. To make matters worse, potential whistleblowers only have 30 days to file their complaints, or they automatically lose their case.
To help protect whistleblowers, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) issued an action alert to urge Congress to implement needed reforms to the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
“Our front-line workers – who risk their lives treating patients, bringing us food and delivering other essential services – deserve much better protection from the coronavirus than they are currently getting,” said NWC Executive Director John Kostyack. “To protect them as well as the communities in which they live and serve, we must guarantee them that their concerns about safety will be heard and that they will not suffer retaliation. Congress must protect our workers by enacting these OSHA reforms as quickly as possible.”
If Congress is serious about protecting workers, they need to amend the law to allow workers to file their claims in court, extend the reporting deadline to 180 days, and include the standard whistleblower protections found in every other whistleblower anti-retaliation law.
The time to ensure protection in the workplace is now. Urge Congress to protect front line workers who blow the whistle.