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How To Report Your California Employer to OSHA

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Learn how to report Termination, Retaliation, and Discrimination Claims in California on OSHA

If you have a safety violation complaint as an employee, you normally file it with OSHA. OSHA is in charge of a wide range of workplace safety issues and implementing federal legislation in this area. They also collaborate with states under OSHA-approved state programs and may be involved in state-level safety infractions.

If you are unable to work because of the risk of serious injury or death due to unsafe working conditions, you may contact OSHA for an inspection, but if there isn't enough time for an inspection, you must stop working immediately.

If you are disciplined or fired for doing so, you can bring a discrimination case and/or an OSHA complaint.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal organization responsible for enacting workplace safety and health legislation in various industries across the United States.

OSHA can also penalize employers who break the rules, audit companies for compliance, and investigate individual grievances filed by employees or their Los Angeles Employment Lawyer.

Remember that employer who violate OSHA regulations may face legal consequences in addition to any fines or penalties. This is especially true when such infractions cause workers to be hurt or become unwell at work.

If OSHA believes it necessary, fines may be waived in some instances. A "ticket" can be issued to employers with few employees and few (if any) past violations. An OSHA alert, on the other hand, is a serious concern. Repeat offenders would very definitely face stiff penalties.

OSHA safeguards California Workers' Rights

The federal OSH Act, which established OSHA in 1970, protects employees from dangerous and hazardous working circumstances that could cause them harm. OSHA includes basic regulations and rights for employees in terms of how the system works and the right to a relatively safe workplace.

Consider the case below:

  • You have the right to receive "layman's language" education and information on OSHA standards and related workplace dangers to avoid.

  • You have the right as a worker to seek and study reports linked to workplace injuries and illnesses.

  • You have the right to make a formal complaint with OSHA in total secrecy (to avoid retaliation from your employer) and to have your employer audited by OSHA on a specific issue.

  • After you've requested an investigation, you'll have the right, but not the obligation, to accompany OSHA inspectors and point out potential infractions.

One of the struggles is obtaining copies of all test reports for tests conducted during the required inspection to establish occupational dangers. Until your manager knows you were the one who alerted him or her, you have the right to keep your job, income, and benefits.

Any retaliation you receive due to revealing the issue is a separate violation that could result in a lawsuit. You should immediately have your claim reviewed by a pre-screened California Employment Lawyer.

How To File An OSHA Complaint In California?

Fill out a Discrimination Complaint Form. If you believe you have been discriminated against or retaliated against for submitting an OSHA complaint, you have 30 days to submit a discrimination complaint. For example, you can file an OSHA complaint within that time window, but a daily discrimination case can be filed afterward.

  • Employer-supplied Workers' rights to workplace safety and health include access to OSHA training programs. Your company is required by law to create and implement a comprehensive anti-hazard instructional program that must be documented. It can be conveyed orally or graphically, but it must include a written component.

  • Employers must ensure that all chemical containers are labeled, with dangerous compounds clearly labeled, to provide employees with enough notice. Information on the potential effects of various chemicals on those who work with them daily, as well as how to properly protect oneself, should be included in the training.

  • All hazardous chemicals must be identified, and a specified line of contact must be established to show how personnel can be alerted about such hazards, which may occur in pipes or during non-routine jobs.

  • Additionally, severe safety criteria must be met on construction sites, in hospital settings, and in enclosed places such as work trenches. Training requirements are specific to your profession and circumstances, and any major or repeated infractions will result in an OSHA complaint and/or a fine.

Information Requirements. Your manager has no legal authority to keep you in the dark regarding OSHA rules, workplace hazards, OSHA test results, or wounded employees. You have the right to ask for this information, and your employer must provide it. For example, you could request to examine the results of chemical or radiation tests, as well as a report on who was hurt and how after a workplace incident.

Your supervisor is required to advise you that he has medical/exposure information on you when you first start working for him and then every year after that. Your employer must also tell you where these records are kept and how to get them. If you or a delegate requests such documents, the employer has 15 business days to respond.

If chemical exposure exceeds OSHA guidelines, noise levels are allowed to be unsafe without proper controls and warnings to potentially exposed employees, or any infractions are detected in the records, it can be used as evidence in a complaint. Also, keep in mind that if an employer goes out of business, the records must be transferred to a "successor business," or you must be notified and given at least three months' notice before the business permanently closes.

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Demands for Action. You have the right as an employee to formally request your employer to rectify a health or safety hazard. You may also seek corrective action if OSHA does not address the safety problem clearly. It may, for example, violate another state or federal law or constitute careless behavior even if it isn't clearly specified as a violation somewhere.

Staff members understandably may not want to "stick their necks out" and risk being dismissed or retaliated against, but remember that you are protected under the law from all forms of retaliation. Furthermore, if the situation is difficult, your health and coworkers' health may be compromised. Often, all that is required to resolve an issue is bravely seeking disciplinary action from your manager.

Complain to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in writing (OSHA). If obtaining papers and communicating with your employer about an issue to request a correction does not result in a fair amount of time, it may be time to seek legal help. You can also contact OSHA directly to register a formal complaint and/or request that the appropriate employer and/or workstation be inspected.

OSHA complaints are accepted online, by phone, fax, or in writing. We'll help you find and understand the forms you'll need and provide instructions on how to fill them out. If you don't want your employer to know who submitted the complaint, you can ask OSHA to keep your name confidential.

It's usually a good idea to consult with an expert California Employment Attorney to make sure your situation is one that OSHA would examine, as well as to learn what you should and shouldn't mention on the complaint forms. An Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles can help you make your case more effective while protecting your future legal rights.

Participate in the Inspection. You can just file a complaint and wait for OSHA inspectors to arrive and do their work. However, accompanying the inspector(s) with you or an approved delegate (such as a union rep) is frequently advantageous so that you may point out the problem(s) in detail during the inspection. Your employer has no jurisdiction to choose the authorized representative and is strictly forbidden from doing so since it could lead to a cover-up attempt.

If there isn't a union or a union representative available, OSHA may hold discreet one-on-one discussions with numerous workers who are aware of the problems. Staff can also report infractions, answer inquiries, and report previous detailed events, accidents, or illnesses to the OSHA officer.

Workers are supposed to notify the inspector if they believe the conditions visible during the inspection are not as they should be. Thus, it's just been cleaned up and made compliant to pass the inspection and avoid culpability for the breach indicated before.

Submit a Claim about Discrimination. If you believe you have been discriminated against or retaliated against for submitting an OSHA complaint, you have 30 days to submit a discrimination complaint. For example, you can file an OSHA complaint within that time window, but a daily discrimination case can be filed afterward.

If you refuse to work because of the risk of injury or death due to unsafe working conditions, you may contact OSHA for an inspection, but if there isn't enough time for an inspection, you must stop working immediately. If you are disciplined or fired for doing so, you can bring a discrimination case and/or an OSHA complaint.

You Might Get Discriminated Against For Doing The Right Thing

When you make an OSHA complaint that exposes the wrongdoings of an employer, you automatically become a whistleblower. By law, whistleblowers cannot be discriminated against or retaliated against for doing the right thing.

However, you can try to spot the discrimination and use that to consider whether you (personally) have a Labor Law case against your employer.

Discrimination usually falls into one of two categories:

1. Discrimination In The Workplace

Discrimination occurs when an employer adopts a corporate policy that applies to all employees but has a disproportionately detrimental impact on employees who belong to a protected class compared to those who do not. To put it another way, the idea appears to be "facially neutral" and does not appear to favor any worker.

While such a policy may be unlawful, it disproportionately affects workers who share a protected feature. Even if the employer has no discriminatory purpose, to begin with, in a case of disproportionate effect discrimination, the employer may be held accountable for any prejudice that occurred.

For example, to encourage employees to stay active and safe, a business may create a policy providing employees with ten more minutes during their lunch break if they take the stairs instead of the elevator. On the other hand, employees with impairments may be unable to engage, resulting in a disparity in their treatment.

2. Disparate Treatment

The employer's actions must be motivated by a discriminatory intent in cases of differential treatment discrimination. When an employer refuses to recruit, encourage, or offer a pay raise to a certain employee or harasses, demotes, terminates, or takes any other adverse action against that person, it is known as disparate treatment. It is the most widespread kind of discrimination in the workplace.

In cases that fall within these categories, employees bear the burden of establishing that they were the victims of employment discrimination. This includes presenting evidence to support the claim's "components," which requires proving the veracity of several facts. The following elements must be present in cases alleging disproportionate treatment or disparate effect discrimination:

  • Anti-discrimination laws were in existence at the time.

  • The employer took disciplinary action against the employee.

  • The employee's or job applicant's safe status prompted the bad behavior.

  • As a result of the employer's negative work behavior, the employee was damaged.

  • An employee will not be able to launch a successful action against their company unless they can show one or more of these items.

Employers in California Who Could Face Discrimination Charges

In California, anti-discrimination laws apply to the following sorts of businesses:

  • Governmental or state-owned entities

  • Employers with five or more employees

  • Representatives of the employer

  • People or businesses with five or more employees

Although California's anti-discrimination laws try to prevent companies from discriminating against employees or job candidates, they do not apply to small enterprises. As a result, employment discrimination laws in California do not apply to employees in businesses that employ fewer than five people daily.

However, these standards are different under federal law because an individual is considered an employer if they employ 15 or more people. The terms involved have the following definitions:

  • A person, a company, an organization, a corporation, or another legal body that employs people.

  • When they have five or more Employees. A circumstance in which an employer supervises and leads five or more workers as part of a job assignment, apprenticeship, or contract. The contract can be explicit or implied, and it can be written or oral.

    1. These workers should be "regularly employed", which means that the employer has five or more employees per week for a total of twenty weeks in the previous two calendar years.

    2. Part-time workers are considered to be working, as are those on paid or unpaid leave.

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When Your Employer is a Government Agency

Under California's anti-discrimination statute, the state is also considered an employer. As a result, state government employees have the right to sue for discrimination in the workplace. Every subdivision of the state of California, as well as local governments, city councils, county governments, and special districts, are all employers.

Payable Damages In Incidents Of Workplace Discrimination

If you win your lawsuit, the court may require your employer to pay you the wage you would have gotten if you hadn't been fired due to workplace discrimination. Here are the possible compensatory damages:

  1. Emotional Distress Damages. These are monetary damages for the pain and suffering caused by prejudice. Emotional distress can be caused by mental anguish, depression, or stress. California's anti-discrimination statutes aim to pay for both real and potential emotional damages caused by prejudice in the workplace.

  2. Attorney's fees. Under California's anti-discrimination laws, employees who have been subjected to racial discrimination may be entitled to attorney's fees. Even though many of the instances included modest emotional anguish and financial losses, the state pushed lawyers to take on these matters.

  3. Punitive Damages. The courts may also issue punitive damages to penalize the employer and deter other companies from discriminating against employees. Punitive losses, on the other hand, are quite rare and minor. To be eligible for these damages, a plaintiff must show that their employer discriminated against them by deception, malice, or oppression. It's always challenging to go above and beyond this standard.

Threats That Are Imminent Vs. Threats That Aren't

All companies must take all reasonable steps to ensure that their employees work in a safe and healthy environment. Many firms are subject to OSHA's authority when it comes to a large amount of the overall health and safety laws that apply to them.

They must make every effort to maintain workplaces safe, aggressively seek out dangers in order to prevent or reduce them, and notify workers about hazards that cannot be avoided. They must also have the necessary training, safety gear, and equipment in order to keep workers as safe as possible.

However, employers frequently fail to do so, or danger happens despite their best efforts. So, where do we go from here? It depends on whether or not the threat is imminent. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.

Dangers that are eminent

If an unsafe work environment puts an employee's life in peril and a hazard is imminent, the employee has the right to refuse to work under those conditions and immediately report the problem to OSHA. It is allowed to refuse to work until the employer investigates and, if necessary, corrects the perceived risk, as long as the employee sincerely believes in good faith that his or her life or well-being is in danger at work.

You can go to OSHA for help if your manager refuses to investigate the situation, fix it, and then fire you for refusing to work. You are not required to lose your job because you choose to "put safety first" when your supervisor did not.

Dangers that aren't imminent

Not all hazards are unavoidable, so ignoring them and continuing to work would almost always result in death or serious damage. But just because something isn't "imminent" doesn't mean it isn't dangerous.

Although you are not required to quit work immediately in the event of a non-imminent threat, you should always alert your manager and request that the danger is resolved. You should definitely inform OSHA if the hazard is caused by a violation of OSHA's occupational safety and health rules. You can seek legal help if you are unable to resolve the matter by simply appealing to your boss.

The Regulations of OSHA Are Extensive

While OSHA laws do not cover every aspect of workplace safety, they do cover the vast majority in most industries. We'll steer you in the correct direction if you're not sure which federal or state government department to contact for help with unsafe working conditions.

For biological agents, explosives, and other dangerous items, OSHA has comprehensive regulations in place. These rules outline how hazardous products should be processed, labeled, and used and how businesses should equip and teach personnel to work safely with them.

OSHA is extensively involved in the construction business because it is one of the most dangerous job types. They enforce a myriad of laws governing the usage of safety devices and procedures during the building of residential and commercial structures in California and across the country.

Maritime safety rules are heavily regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There's something for everyone, whether it's commercial fishing, boating, water transportation, or seafloor oil drilling. OSHA covers emergency responders, medical personnel, and even office workers regarding ergonomics. OSHA will almost certainly have an impact on your company.

What Should You Do If You Get Hurt?

If you are harmed on the job despite OSHA's effort to control your employer because your employer failed to follow the applicable regulations, you have options other than filing a worker's compensation claim.

  1. Of course, you'll seek immediate medical assistance and work your way back to a position where you can cope with the situation. Meanwhile, your partner, a loved one, a coworker, or a friend may be able to help you.

  2. The next step is to call OSHA and/or an experienced California Employment Attorney who can assess your situation and assist you. The initial case evaluation will provide you with information about your current condition and your options for moving forward. Although you may be qualified for workers' compensation, you may also be eligible for a compensatory lawsuit. When you return to the same place of business, be sure the hazardous conditions that caused your accident don't recur, endangering others and yourself.

  3. Even if you were not hurt, it is your right and responsibility to report a dangerous work condition. To begin, you can try to resolve the situation internally. However, many employers fail to listen or respond by quickly resolving the issue. If this occurs, you can file a report with OSHA and request a health and safety inspection.

  4. You get the right to sue if your company fires you, lays you off, slashes your pay and benefits, demotes you, or takes a few other penalties against you for reporting an issue to OSHA. You do have the right to reimbursement and reinstatement if you want your job back.

Wrongful Termination Cases in California Can Be Filed On A Variety Of Grounds

Both at-will and contract-based workers in California can claim wrongful termination under the correct circumstances. Some of the most popular reasons for wrongful termination cases in California are as follows:

Employers in California are barred from terminating employees based on their participation in a "safe class" by state and federal law. California's Fair Employment and Housing Act recognize more protected groups than most other states. If your employer fired you because of protected personal qualities, you can pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.

As an employee, you have the right to perform such things without fear of losing your job. The following is included:

  • Requesting a guaranteed leave of absence

  • Refusing to participate in illegal acts

  • Reporting illegal (or appear to be unlawful) activities to a supervisor or other employee who can investigate and put an end to the illegal behavior or to state or federal authorities (commonly referred to as "whistleblowing")

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Labor Code Section 1102.5, and other state and federal regulations make it illegal to fire an employee for engaging in these types of activity.

Punishment is A Violation of Public Policy

Termination for public policy grounds is another exception to California's at-will employment law. It might also be used to justify the dismissal of contract workers without cause. In California, a dismissal has deemed a violation of public policy if it is motivated by the following:

  • Fulfillment of a legal obligation by the employee

  • An employee's exercise of a civil right

  • The employee's refusal to break the law

  • The employee's notification of a violation of a public-interest statute

As you can see, there are times when the grounds for bringing a claim for retaliatory termination and a claim for the termination in violation of public policy overlap. You do not need to know what type of wrongful termination case you have. What matters is that you act fast, beginning with scheduling a free appointment to review your legal alternatives.

Constructive Discharge

What if you haven't been fired, but your supervisor has made your job so tough that you want to leave? In legal terms, this is referred to as constructive termination or discharge, which entails the same rights and remedies as a formal termination of employment. The following are some examples of workplace behavior that could support a constructive termination or discharge argument:

  • Putting a worker in a potentially dangerous scenario at work

  • Creating a hostile working environment

  • Regularly assigning an employee to undesirable assignments or changes

  • Getting rid of a worker or creating unfounded negative performance reviews that prevent them from developing in their careers

  • undermining the work of a coworker

Breach of Employment Contract

If you have a contract with your employer, your employer can fire you without cause if you break the conditions of the contract. This could include terminating you without cause or for reasons other than those indicated as grounds for termination before the conclusion of the agreement's stipulated period.

Even though some employment contracts are written in straightforward English, contractual obligations provide room for interpretation. Examine the terms of your agreement in light of the relevant California law laws to see if you have a claim for damages.

Worker Protections for At-Will Employees

Wrongful termination, in basic words, occurs when an employee's position is terminated in violation of a contract or public law. An employment contract is a written agreement between an employer and an employee that specifies the terms of the employee's employment and the reasons for terminating it.

However, if there is no employment contract in California, the job status defaults to at-will employment. At-will employment indicates that any party can end the working relationship at any moment for any reason if the employee is not in a protected class. The termination of someone in that covered class who is also an at-will employee is the source of many unjust termination complaints.

Under California law, at-will employees have several essential rights, including:

  • If a worker is incapacitated due to pregnancy or the employment provides an unnecessary risk to the worker or her unborn child, equitable accommodations are guaranteed if the employer has more than five employees.

  • Guaranteed leave for unique circumstances such as the birth or adoption of a child, a worker's significant health condition, or a worker's need to care for a parent, spouse, or kid with a significant health condition if the firm has at least 50 employees.

  • Discrimination is forbidden, including dismissal based on sex, race, or membership in a protected class of workers or characteristics.

  • Protection from retaliation in the workplace. If you report or file a claim of a violation of state or federal labor laws with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, assist in a department inquiry, or stand up to an employer's violation of those laws.

  • You are protected from being fired if you have a disability and your employer cannot make reasonable adjustments for it.

  • Anti-discrimination laws protect employees in the workplace. On the other hand, independent contractors are frequently prevented from filing unjust termination complaints because they do not have any of the above rights. is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer that's the best fit to handle your unique Employment Law case. You can contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or fill in your basic case details on our submission form) for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.


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