What is the Whistleblower Protection Act?
In the media today, there has been a lot of talk about a whistleblower in the political field. What people may not understand, though, is that whistleblowers can exist everywhere outside of politics. Essentially, a whistleblower is someone who brings light to or informs an organization about secretive and illegal or unethical information committed by another individual or group. Whistleblowers act for the good of the unit as a whole in order to see an organization succeed without any harm. In order to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers, the Whistleblower Protection Act, otherwise known as the WPA, was formed. This act falls under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. There is a lot of information to know about the WPA, especially if you’re considering becoming a whistleblower yourself. Below, you’ll find detailed material regarding the WPA and what’s covered under this act.
Who Does the WPA Protect?
The Whistleblower Protection Act covers any federally employed individual who lawfully disclosed information about any organization. This disclosed information can fall under various categories.
The first category includes whether a violation of law, rule, or regulation was seen. This means that the whistleblower must know of an illegal act that took place.
A second category of people who are protected include those who reveal an abuse of authority in an organization. With this, the whistleblower is protected if they spoke up about an abuse of power.
A third category included is those who expose when an organization is completing actions that put public health or safety at risk. Other people who are protected under the WPA include those who disclose information about gross mismanagement or a gross waste of funds.
In 2012, an adjustment to the WPA was formed. This is called the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, or WPEA. The act clarifies and strengthens protections for federal employees who report dishonest or illegal measures within their organizations.
There are many clarifications provided by the WPEA, but the major ones include that protection prevails under previously disclosed information and regardless of motives, amount of time passed, or whether the individual was on duty or not. Ultimately, the WPA and WPEA show that whistleblowers should have their anonymity protected at all costs.
Whistleblower Retaliation and WPA
In the case where the whistleblower’s identity was revealed or if the whistleblower feels retaliated against for their disclosure, there are ways to handle this situation. Unfortunately, there may be instances where whistleblowers, who are trying to do better for the company, are harmed in the process.
Such examples of retaliation include but are not limited to firing or laying off, demoting, denying benefits, threats, or cutting pay and hours. If this happens, OSHA is available for help. Going through the Consumer Product Safety Commission Office of Inspector General or the Office of Special Counsel should be the whistleblower’s first step.
Investigation Process and Whistleblower Protection Act
After you file a complaint through the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there will be an investigation process to determine fault. To aid this process, it’s vital that the whistleblower maintains all potential evidence that is related to the investigation.
Such evidence could include texts, emails, voicemails, phone logs, files, or other means of correspondence. You must supply a copy of the complaint with evidence to the opposite party, as well as a witness, in order to allow them to support or refute the alleged retaliation.
Depending on the severity of the claim or time of submission, OSHA claims can vary in time and length. You should be ready to wait for a conclusion.
If a settlement is not reached throughout the investigation, a conclusion will be determined by OSHA. They will provide a recommendation to the supervisor about whether or not retaliation likely occurred.
Hire Rochester Employment Lawyer to know what is Whistleblower Protection Act?
Because the process of a whistleblower retaliation claim can be long and extensive, it may be a good idea to hire a lawyer. If you have a lawyer, they become the designated representative of the hirer, and thus all communications from OSHA will go directly to them.
Essentially, the lawyer will serve as a mediator and a knowledgeable source throughout the whole OSHA investigation.
If you’re looking for a lawyer, The Cimino Law Firm can help. With over 20 years of experience in law, Michelle Cimino will support you throughout the entire process. If you’d like to learn more about how the Whistleblower Protection Act applies to you, call to schedule your confidential consultation with The Cimino Law Firm.
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