Workers have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA Act), administered by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. OSHA created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than twenty whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Rights afforded by these whistleblower acts include, but are not limited to, worker participation in safety and health activities, reporting a work related injury, illness or fatality, or reporting a violation of the statutes. Discrimination and retaliation may include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Making threats
- Reassignment affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
Although not limited to the healthcare world, in early 2014, OSHA began to focus more specifically on the healthcare industry and launched a web page dedicated to informing hospital workers of various forms of safety issues that may be encountered while performing their jobs at hospitals. According to OSHA, hospitals can be one of the most dangerous places to work between work-related injuries and illnesses. According to the United States Department of Labor’s initiative, the purpose of the web page is to “help hospitals prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs, and implement safety and health management systems.”
There will be some overlap between the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and the False Claims Act (“FCA”) due to one of OSHA’s priorities on a Safe Patient Handling Program. Wrongful termination claims may ensue. Under the FCA, fraud against the government can be pursued by private individuals that have, among other things, intimate knowledge of a company’s fraud and are the first to file the action. Such individuals are referred to as “whistleblowers” and the actions themselves are called False Claims Act cases or Qui Tam actions. Simply put, there are violations of the fraud and abuse provisions in the ACA that trigger a cause of action under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) which translates into many opportunities to expose fraud. Some examples are: failing to provide quality care to patients, failing to meet the expected stand ard of care and failure to maintain adequate compliance programs. Depending on the extent to which a whistleblower is aware of any fraud, he or she may be able to recover a substantial monetary award.
The Firm also represents whistleblowers and victims of discrimination and retaliation in the financial industry involving claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”), the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) and before the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
The employment and whistleblower lawyers at The Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC are knowledgeable and experienced in handling OSHA whistleblower claims as well as OSHA retaliation claims and wrongful termination claims. Please CALL US today for a confidential case evaluation. Please keep in mind that the amount of time that you may have to bring a claim, i.e., statute of limitations, can be as short as thirty (30) days from the last negative action taken against you.