Retaliation against employees who raise or report concerns or otherwise exercise their rights under federal whistleblower provisions is not only illegal, it is also bad for workers and bad for business. When an employee accuses a manager, supervisor or organization of misconduct or a potential violation of law, an impartial response to the employee complaint may be difficult. However, any action against an employee that could be perceived as adverse makes the organization vulnerable to claims of retaliation, regardless of the merits of the complaint.
A proactive anti-retaliation program is designed to receive and respond appropriately to employees’ complaints and concerns, and to prevent and address retaliation against employees who raise or report concerns. An anti-retaliation program that enables all members of the workforce, including permanent employees, contractors and temporary workers, to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation can help employers learn of problems and appropriately address them before they become more difficult to correct. A program based on this proactive approach not only helps employers ensure that they are following federal laws, but also helps create a positive workplace culture that prevents unlawful retaliation against employees.
Implementing an effective anti-retaliation program requires specific policies and commitments, and should include these five key elements:
- Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
- System for listening to and resolving employees’ concerns
- System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
- Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
- Program oversight
All five elements should be integrated into a cohesive program in order to effectively protect employees from retaliation.
Download OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to learn more about how to implement an effective anti-retaliation program.