What is the Whistleblower Protection Program?

A whistle-blower is generally defined as a person who informs and exposes another person or organization engaged in illegal activity. Whistle-blowers are often subject to a form of retaliation by the people or organizations they are informing on. Retaliation can be in the form of blacklisting, firing, even threats of physical violence. Whistleblowers are protected by law; their activities are meant to be encouraged.

What does the program do?

A whistle-blower first files a complaint of harassment with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office. Investigators from their region’s OSHA protection program then go on a fact finding mission.

They will conduct interviews and they will obtain information from the employee, employer, and any witnesses as necessary. If the state OSHA investigators find that the employee was the victim of retaliation, they can order the employer to restore the employee’s job, earnings, benefits, and any other losses they have suffered.

How is Texas different?

If the whistle-blower was working a private sector job, they fall under OSHA’s whistleblower protection program. If the whistle-blower was a state or local government worker, they are not covered by the federal OSHA protection program. The Texas Whistleblower Act is the main source of protection for these public employees. Instead of OSHA investigators however, an appropriate local or state agency will conduct the investigation.

Why a filer might need help

A whistle-blower might end up filing in the wrong jurisdiction; confusing federal, state, or local tiers of government. Even for public employees, they must file their complaint with the

Under the Texas Whistleblower Act, cases have been ruled out because the complaint was filed with the wrong agency. An attorney with substantial knowledge on retaliation laws can help a whistle-blower file proper documentation.

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