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How to Report an Employer to the Department of Labor

Whether you work for a large corporation, the government, or a local business, there are many labor laws meant to protect you and the public at large. However, since not all employers follow these laws, lawmakers created a way for employees to report workplace violations through the Department of Labor.

Whistleblowers can face retaliation for their actions. Legislators have also passed whistleblower protection laws that forbid such retaliation. Read on to learn more about how to report an employer to the Department of Labor and about the laws that can protect you as a whistleblower.

What Is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are individuals who report or refuse to participate in illegal activity within their company or government. In the labor context, this involves issues of workplace safety and health, employee benefits, veteran employment, wages and hours, workers' compensation, agricultural work, workplace discrimination, and more. Throughout the years, whistleblowers have helped expose everything from single instances of wrongdoing to extensive fraud and abuse.

Reporting an Employer to the Department of Labor

Maybe you've witnessed racial discrimination, toxic dumping, or dangerous working conditions. Or maybe you've been denied compensation or benefits to which you're entitled. Whatever the case may be, the U.S. Department of Labor provides protections for workers' rights, benefits, and welfare.

Reporting a violation of the labor laws is not always simple. First, you need to know which agency within the U.S. Department of Labor covers your issue. For example, the Wage and Hour Division handles many issues including, family and medical leave, compensation, minimum wage, agricultural workers, and employees contracting with the federal government.

There are many agencies and programs within the U.S. Department of Labor, each focused on separate but related areas. The agency to file your complaint will depend on your individual situation. Talk to a wrongful termination or whistleblower lawyer for help with your case.

Key Points for Filing a Report with the U.S. Department of Labor

The exact process for filing a complaint will vary depending on the law and agency that applies to your situation. The following are general key points to consider as you prepare to blow the whistle:

  • Consider whether this is an issue that can be resolved internally within the company. Employers can't fix problems they don't know about, and some problems are caused unintentionally.
  • Keep detailed documentation about the problem, complaints you make, and how those complaints are received by management and coworkers.
  • Know which laws and agencies cover your issue. As noted above, different agencies within the Department of Labor handle different complaints.
  • Contact the appropriate agency or division to learn whether you must file with a state agency before reporting to the Department of Labor.
  • File your complaint within the timeframe required by the agency or division. If you wait too long, you could lose the right to have your issues addressed through the Department of Labor.

How to Report Your Employer to the Department of Labor and Keep Your Job

Some employers may welcome the chance to weed out wrongdoing within their company, but others are not so thankful. Whistleblowers play a crucial role in our society, but they often face retaliation for their actions. As a whistleblower, you may encounter many different types of workplace retaliation, including simple harassment, negative performance reviews, pay cuts, transfers, and even the loss of your job.

Many of the laws that encourage whistleblowing also contain anti-retaliation provisions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is the agency within the Department of Labor that handles whistleblower retaliation claims by enforcing the retaliation provisions of over 20 different federal laws. However, it's important to be aware that there are time limits for filing a retaliation claim. Some claims have to be filed within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.

Whistleblowing Can Be a Lonely Game: Get Help with Your Report

Many workers lack the time, resources, and bargaining power to effectively protect themselves from retaliation by their employers. The laws and agencies under the Department of Labor can hold employers accountable and help workers with workplace problems.

Collecting evidence, knowing which laws and agencies apply to your situation, and how to file a complaint in time can seem daunting. Let a local whistleblower attorney advise you on the particulars and show you how to report your employer to the Department of Labor.

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