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It’s illegal for an employer to fire you if you’ve complained

As an employee, you have certain rights that are legally enforceable. However, if you do not know about these rights, as many do not, you will not be equipped with the knowledge that you need in order to take action.

Among these rights is your protection from whistleblower retaliation. This means that your employer is not allowed to punish you if you seek to improve a matter by making a complaint about something, whether externally or internally.

What does whistleblower protection mean?

If you have made a formal complaint about the conditions of your company, this means that you are a whistleblower. Perhaps you made a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about your concerns of dangerous conditions, for example. Whistleblowers historically have been vulnerable to acts of retaliation from their employer, such as being subject to demotion or being fired.

Therefore, as a result, all whistleblowers are legally protected from retaliation in the workplace. This means that it is illegal for whistleblowers to be denied benefits, demoted, denied overtime, threatened or disciplined for their decision to raise awareness of a certain situation.

How do I take action?

If you believe that you have been a victim of workplace retaliation as a whistleblower, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. You must file a formal complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the incident. You can make the application online on the OSHA website, by mail, by fax or by telephone. It is vital that you take action so that you can have your job, earnings and benefits restored.

Source: whistleblowers, "The whistleblower protection programs," accessed March 14, 2018

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