COVID-19 Safety Complaints & Whistleblower Protections
Both OSHA and Our Experienced Memphis Attorneys Are On Your Side
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our definition of safety has changed drastically. Individuals and institutions around the world have been forced to adapt and prioritize the health and wellbeing of the workforce. As part of the coronavirus response, many employees have started working from home. Those who are unable to are known as “essential employees,” and they are, understandably, scared of being exposed to and contracting the virus.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended measures like face coverings and increased sanitation efforts to protect both workers and employees. All workplaces are also practicing social distancing and other health and safety measures. When an employer fails to implement these strategies, workers are allowed to speak out. If, for example, an essential worker is not provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), they may file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Once they do so, this person becomes a “whistleblower,” and they are entitled to certain protections.
When employers retaliate against whistleblowers, OSHA is responsible for enforcing whistleblower protections. Still, whistleblowers may also wish to recruit an experienced employment law attorney for assistance.
If this situation sounds familiar to you, Donati Law, PLLC can help. With over 35 years of experience in the Memphis area, we can walk you through the whistleblowing process.
Call us at (901) 209-5500 today to get started.
COVID-19 Safety Standards
OSHA has developed standards and directions for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. To adhere to federal standards, employers must provide:
- Eye and face protection
- Respiratory protection
- Hand protection
- Sanitation (and sanitized environments)
- Protection from bloodborne pathogens
- Hazard communication
Many of these safety measures existed before the coronavirus crisis, but they are applied slightly differently now. For example, doctors and nurses always needed all of the protections above, but now these protections should be extended to other essential workers, as well.
Employees in grocery stores and pharmacies, for instance, may need to sanitize their station between customers, wear gloves and/or face masks, or work behind a “sneeze guard.”
If your employer isn’t adhering to OSHA standards and taking reasonable steps to protect you from the virus, you can express your concerns without retaliation.
Anyone who is wrongfully terminated or disciplined after filing a safety complaint should contact our Memphis whistleblower lawyers ASAP.
How To File an OSHA Whistleblower Complaint
Before you file a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, make sure that your complaint contains the 4 key elements:
- You reported a violation of law or otherwise engaged in a protected act
- Your employer knew about or suspected your activity
- Your employer took adverse action against you
- Your protected activity motivated or contributed to the adverse action
If all these elements apply to you, you can call (800) 321-6742 or file a complaint online.
Depending on the safety violation you spoke out about, you will have anywhere from 30 to 180 days from the retaliation to file your complaint. To be safe, contact OSHA sooner rather than later.
Since February 18, 2020, upwards of 700 whistleblower complaints related to COVID-19 have been filed every day.
While you wait for OSHA to respond, you can enlist Donati Law, PLLC to assist you in this precarious legal situation.
We Want To Help
Our firm has been seeking justice for Memphis workers since 1980. We have provided excellent legal representation to countless clients over the years, and we want to help you, as well.
Every employee deserves a safe workplace and you should not be penalized for trying to protect yours.
For assistance with an OSHA whistleblower claim, contact us at (901) 209-5500 or fill out our employment law questionnaire today.