Public Law: Whistleblower Compliance in Term Paper
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They may not be reassigned to perform work that is substantially different from their normal occupational responsibilities (OSHA, 2003).
Employers may not submit information about the employee that is intended to have damaging consequences on the employee's financial credit history, and employers may not engage in conduct or communications designed to "blackball" the employee from other employment, either within government or in connection with any private sector employment opportunities. Finally, employers may not engage in conduct intended (or reasonably perceived) as "intimidation." Intimidation is one of the most difficult types of non-compliance with activities protected under the Act, because it is subject to interpretation and because it is capable of being perpetrated without any written record. Likewise, many forms of conduct that are generally benign under ordinary (i.e. non-adversarial) circumstances at work only rise to the level of intimidation" in specific context (USLC, 2007).
Refusal to Work:
Under certain (limited) circumstances, employees also have the right to refuse to work until employers correct dangerous working conditions. The specific criteria that must be met before an employee may walk off the job without surrendering employment/reemployment rights are fairly strict. Employees must satisfy all of the following criteria (OSHA, 2003):
1) the employee must have a reasonable belief that he or she faces death or serious injury, and that specific belief must be so obviously dangerous and potentially deadly that it meets the objective "reasonable person" standard;
2) the condition or situation must be of an immediately urgent nature that is not capable of redress through ordinary regulatory or administrative procedures; and 3) the employee must have first brought the condition or circumstance to the attention of the employer and failed to achieve a remedy through that process.
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, employees whose claims against
their employers are sustained pursuant to hearings before administrative law judges are entitled to a full range of compensation intended both to make them whole as well as to punish and deter future failures to comply on the part of the employer.
Whistleblowers are entitled to full reinstatement to their previous positions, including any seniority associate with their tenure. This includes any additional tenure that would have accrued during any unlawful layoff or periods of non-work caused by the employer's failure to comply with the Act. Employees wrongfully terminated, laid off, demoted, or reassigned to schedules, shifts, positions or operational responsibilities associated with lesser pay than the pay to which they were rightfully entitled before the employer's acts of non-compliance are also entitled to double back pay upon a judgment in their favor arising from violations of the Act (USLC, 2007).
Employees determined to have been harmed by violations of the ACT are entitled to interest that would have accumulated on any earned pay wrongfully withheld, as well as pay that they were unable to earn because of work that was wrongfully withheld from them in violation of the Act. Attorneys fees and other costs of administrating their justified claims is also available, and in the case of discriminatory treatment recognized under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, special damages are available.
Many states and local governments also maintain whistleblower protection laws, but they may differ substantially from the provisions of the federal Act enacted in 1989.
State laws may provide more protections, but they are not capable of being adjudicated by federal agencies or by federal administrative courts of appeal (OSHA, 2003).
OSHA (2003) Whistleblower Fact Sheet. Accessed October 9, 2007, at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_WhistleblowerFacts/whistleblower_protections-general.pdf
U.S. Library of Congress (2007) Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. Accessed October 8, 2007, at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F-c101:1:./temp/~c101Ylqmha:e37677:
WhistleblowerLaws.com; (2007) the Law: An Overview. Accessed October 9, 2007 at http://whistleblowerlaws.com/protection.htm
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