Environmental Whistleblowers FAQ

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What Federal Laws Protect Environmental Whistleblowers?

Seven major federal environmental laws (Clean Air, Toxic Substances, Clean Water, Atomic Energy, Solid Waste, Safe Drinking Water, and Superfund) have special provisions protecting corporate whistleblowers.

Who is Protected?

Almost any private sector or federal employee can be protected.

Who Can File a Complaint?

Any employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against in retaliation for "blowing the whistle" on a safety problem or environmental violation, or for engaging in other activity protected under the whistleblower law.

What is Illegal Discrimination?

Adverse changes to the whistleblower's terms and conditions of employment are prohibited. This includes a wide range of actions from reprimands to terminations and blacklisting.

Where Should I File a Complaint?

These laws are administered by the US Department of Labor (DOL). Complaints must be filed in writing and should be mailed to: US Department of Labor Office of the Assistant Secretary Occupational Safety and Health Administration - Room: S2315 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, DC 20210 202-693-2000

What Are the Statutes Of Limitations?

A complaint under six of the environmental statutes must be filed with the DOL in writing within 30 days of the time an employee learns that he or she will be, or has been, subjected to discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Do Other Laws Protect Whistleblowers?

Many states have enacted laws to protect whistleblowers. Most of these laws have a longer statue of limitations and other benefits unavailable under federal law. The National Whistleblowers Center has published a compilation of all Federal laws and regulations protecting whistleblowers. Also, The New Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself. The Handbook is the first-ever consumer's guide to whistleblowing. It contains twenty-one clear and comprehensive rules that fully explain the how to effectively blow the whistle. This book is also available directly from the publisher, or at a public library. It is very important that you review this resource in order to determine what laws may protect you and whether you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. For more information about this and other whistleblower publications, please visit the National Whistleblowers Center’s Book Store.

What remedies are available to employees under the environmental whistleblower statutes?

Employees who prevail are entitled to:

  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay with interest
  • A complete “make-whole” compensation (including restoration of seniority/sick leave, etc.)
  • Compensatory damages (for emotional distress and loss of professional reputation)
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs
  • “Affirmative Relief” (such as requiring a letter of apology and formal posting of the decision)

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