May an employer terminate an employee who has previously made a complaint of a health or safety violation in the workplace?
Authors: John D. Surma and Collin G. Warren, Adams and Reese LLP
Not for making the complaint. OSHA regulates 22 Whistleblower Statutes, including the one for the OSH Act. It strongly and adamantly prohibits an employer from firing or in any way discriminating against an employee for making a complaint to OSHA about a health and safety violation or for testifying or preparing to testify against the employer. Significant penalties are imposed against employers who violate this mandate. However, an employee who made a complaint in the past is not barred from ever being terminated. It is just important to make sure any termination is done for legitimate reasons and not for reasons relating to the complaint.