All employees have the right to voice any concerns they have about safety. However, when they do, this can be costly for the employer, since the employer will likely need to enact policies to address the safety conditions in the workplace. This is why employers can often wrongly become angry at employees who make complaints about safety in the workplace, either intentionally or unintentionally.
An employee may be retaliated against by an employer in many ways. They might be given disciplinary treatment, demoted, denied a promotion or they may even have their employment terminated entirely. If you have had your employment terminated a short time after you complained about safety in your workplace, it is important to consider whether you have a legal claim.
How does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protect employees from retaliation?
OSHA is the governmental department that enforces safety in the workplace. Therefore, if you make a complaint about your concerns to them, you will be protected. OSHA makes it clear that employees cannot be retaliated against after making a complaint to them. It is possible to alert OSHA of any retaliatory response that you have received from your employer, including an instance of your termination of employment.
In order to have a legal claim for wrongful termination due to retaliation, you must be able to show that you were not fired for a legitimate reason, such as because of poor working ethic or redundancy.
If you have been fired in the state of California shortly after making a safety complaint, it is a good idea to consider taking action.