You are probably aware that an employer cannot fire someone because of discrimination against his or her race, gender or other protected status.
However, there are also wrongful termination laws that are not commonly known, such as the law concerning complaints about OSHA violations.
Reasons for termination
An employer may have a legitimate business reason for terminating an employee. For example, the business may be losing money, or the employer has made the decision to downsize. However, wrongful termination may surface if the reason is retaliatory or discriminatory. An employer cannot fire an employee because of race, gender, disability, religion, age, national origin or pregnancy.
OSHA violation complaints
According to the Occupation Safety and Health Act, or OSHA, an employer cannot terminate a worker who lodges a complaint about OSHA violations in the workplace. The employer has a responsibility to meet both state and federal safety and health standards. In 2019, the highest monetary penalties that OSHA proposed resulted from an incident where employers put employees at risk of injury or even death because safe work practices were not in place.
Types of safety concerns
In the construction industry, falls are the primary cause of worker fatalities. In this and other industries, injuries or death may also result from eye hazards, electrocution, thermal, atmospheric or mechanical hazards or even dangerous box-stacking practices and blocked exit routes.
A look at the facts
To determine whether an employer has wrongfully terminated an employee, a thorough review of facts and evidence is the next step. A discharged employee may have grounds for wrongful termination if findings show the employer violated OSHA health and safety rules.