Safety Whistleblowers Get Little Protection

A Department of Labor program set up to protect workers who blow the whistle on their employers may not be providing very much protection at all. Eighty percent of cases referred to the Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program are "dismissed" or "withdrawn." That office is described as understaffed and overloaded with complaints in a new report published by FairWarning.org.

The non-profit spoke with current OSHA investigators who express their frustration with the "ridiculous standards" they have to meet to get government attorneys to take on cases of workers illegally fired or demoted after reporting safety violations at work. A review of government data showed that Labor Department attorneys filed 32 lawsuits on behalf of whistleblowers between 1995 and 2009, while rejecting 279 cases.

The solicitor's office told FairWarning.org in an e-mail that their staff "litigated or settled about 40 percent of referrals over the 14 years."

FairWarning.org is an online publication dedicated to covering issues of health, safety and corporate conduct.

  • Michael Rey

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