If I brought an OSHA complaint against my company and was subsequently offered a demotion which I refused, do I have a case?

Question Details:I did call OSHA when I was suspended and then filed my case after being released on 1/25/10. I am protected under the whistleblower law and OSHA has given me an investigator for my case. I was offered 2 options, both of which were demotions. I couldn't take either option because they were demotions even though same pay. I was told by the HR employee that they would have to let me go if I didn't take either option. Also, I was denied unemployment because they stated I quit which is not true. Do I have a case? Should I consult directly with an employment attorney about this? I'm in Fort Bend County, TX. 

Asked 5 years ago under Employment and Labor | 1946 Views | More Legal Topics

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J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

Whistlerblower cases generally require that the employer receive state/federal funding.  If your company is funded with state/federal money, then you may qualify for whistleblower status. If you are an employee at will, you can be fired from a job for good bad or no reason at all, unless the reason you were fired offends a public policy.  If you made a complaint as a result of witnessing your employer engage in violations of the law, you may have a case as you may argue that you suffered adverse job action (demotion) as a result of reporting a state law violation.  As for unemployment, you should fight this on the grounds that you have been demoted and that the nature of your job that you were hired to do changed (if this is true).  You should hire an employment lawyer to help you and not let the company bully you here. 

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

Yes, you should consult with an employee rights attorney about the situation.  If you believe that you were unjustly treated or fired due to your filing an OSHA complaint then you may indeed have a case.  OSHA can order that you be reinstated or compensated under - you are correct - the Whistle blower laws.  OSHA and the Department of Labor work to make sure that employees are protected from reporting violations that could impact on their health and safety.  You can also contact OSHA or your investigator and see what steps you need to take to request a hearing.  Good luck.

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