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Whistleblower | State laws

Report calls for states to boost whistleblower protections

October 30, 2013

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Washington – Current laws fail to protect workers from retaliation for reporting their employer for health and safety hazards, concludes a new report from the Center for Effective Government.

Released Oct. 23, Securing the Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace cites several problems with the whistleblower protections in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, including a narrow window to file a retaliation complaint, lengthy investigations and a high burden of proof for workers. Even if OSHA concludes that a complaint has merit, the agency lacks the authority to preliminarily reinstate terminated workers, according to the report.

To make up for the “weak” protections at the federal level, the center is calling for state governments to pass stronger laws. The report profiles specific states that have additional protections, such as Delaware and Colorado, and then describes some overall recommendations – such as state laws to require prompt investigation of complaints, make the burden of proof “reasonable,” and give employees the right to pursue their claim if the state decides not to move forward.