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How the Department of Labor offers protection for whistleblowers

The Department of Labor supports whistleblowers and offers specific protections for them in many industries. The main act that provides this protection is the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but there are also specific provisions for certain industries, such as the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) or the International Safe Container Act (ISCA).

Through these acts, the government has established that whistleblowers who report on unsafe workplaces, sexual harassment and other such issues cannot be discriminated against in the workplace simply for making these reports. They cannot be fired from their positions on those grounds. They must be treated fairly.

Above all else, this goes for employees who step forward and start proceedings against a company. However, the same protections are also in place for those who may be asked to testify at the proceedings, even if they did not initiate them in the first place. If they participate in any way to assist, the workers maintain their right to protection. Furthermore, they cannot be fired or discriminated against simply for voicing a complaint when a violation is noted.

One of the biggest reasons why people do not report on illegal activities within the workplace is simply because they are afraid that they will be treated unfairly or that they will lose their jobs. In order to make sure that employees are safe and that they are allowed to be proactive in maintaining that safety, OSHA ensures that this cannot legally take place.

If you've reported on sexual harassment or anything else and you feel that your rights have been violated with a retaliation from your employer, be sure that you know what legal steps to take.

Source: Department of Labor, "Other Workplace Standards: Whistleblower and Retaliation Protections," accessed April. 02, 2015

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