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Filing a complaint
  • Employees who believe they have been retaliated against by their employers for reporting hazards should file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible.
  • Private-sector and USPS employees are covered under the OSH Act and in some cases, state law. Other federal employees are covered by their agencies’ procedures.

Employees who believe that their employers retaliated against them because they engaged in protected activity should contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as soon as possible because complaints must be filed within the legal time limits.

An employee can file a complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling the local OSHA office, sending a written complaint to the closest OSHA office, or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language. Employees who wish to file a complaint electronically can visit: www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html. To contact an OSHA area office, employees should call (800) 321-OSHA (6742) to be connected to the closest area office or visit www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html to find local OSHA office address and contact information.

When OSHA receives a complaint, the agency will first review it to determine whether certain basic requirements are met, such as whether the complaint was filed on time. If so, the complaint will be investigated in order to determine whether the employer retaliated against the employee for engaging in activity protected under one of OSHA’s whistleblower laws. OSHA may also attempt to assist the employer and employee in reaching a settlement of the case.

Private-sector and USPS employees

Private-sector employees throughout the United States and its territories and employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS) who suffer retaliation because of occupational safety or health activity are covered by section 11(c) of the OSH Act. In addition, private-sector employees are also covered by laws in states which operate their own comprehensive occupational safety and health programs approved by federal OSHA (“State Plans”).

Federal employees

A federal employee who is not a USPS employee and who wishes to file a complaint alleging retaliation due to disclosure of a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety or involving a violation of an occupational safety or health standard or regulation should contact the Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov). Such federal employees are also covered by their own agency’s procedures for remedying such retaliation. Public-sector employees who are unsure whether they are covered under a whistleblower law should call (800) 321-OSHA (6742) for assistance, or visit www.whistleblowers.gov.

State plans

For information on the whistleblower provisions of the 22 State Plan states that cover private-sector employees, employees should visit www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp. With the exception of employees of the USPS, public-sector employees (those employed as municipal, county, state, territorial, or federal workers) are not covered by the OSH Act. State and local government employees are covered by the whistleblower provisions of all the states with State Plans, including six states which cover only state and local government employees.