Problem: Jack has become a minor celebrity with other employees ever since he filed an Occupational Safety and Health Act complaint about an alleged hazardous condition.
He spends so much time talking about safety, that his job performance is declining. It reaches the point that Jack needs to be disciplined.
What would you do?
The answer: Jack had every right to file his complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He does not have the right to disrupt the workplace or allow his job performance to suffer. You don’t have to feel handcuffed in your dealings with an employee who has filed a complaint.
But you do have to be careful with anyaction taken after the original complaint is filed. Even a hint of retaliation can trigger a lawsuit.
Talk to Jack immediately about his declining performance and put the conversation in writing. Issue a written warning and follow your disciplinary procedure carefully if his performance does not improve.
Activities in which employees have a right to blow the whistle without being subject to disciplinary action or harassment include the following:
- Opposing or publicizing policies that violate antitrust, securities, or consumer protection laws, such as the Environmental Protection Act.
- Reporting fraud, corruption, or other forms of law-breaking covered by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Whistleblower Protection Act, or state whistleblower statutes.
- Disclosing information about fraudulent activities within their publicly held private corporation, in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
- Reporting the gross mismanagement, waste, or abuse of stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
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