How to File a Whistleblower Complaint

You have the right to file a whistleblower complaint with OSHA if you believe your employer retaliated against you for exercising your rights as an employee under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by OSHA. In States with OSHA-approved State Plans, employees may file complaints under section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act with Federal OSHA and with the State Plan under its equivalent statutory provision.

OSHA administers more than 20 whistleblower statutes, with varying time limits for filing.  The time frame for filing a complaint begins when the adverse action, such as a firing, occurs and is communicated to the employee. The varying time frames are as follows:

30 Days

  • Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)
  • Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA)
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

60 Days

  • International Safe Container Act (ISCA)

90 Days

  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
  • Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21)

180 Days

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
  • Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, as amended by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (ERA)
  • Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRA)
  • FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)
  • National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA)
  • Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Seaman’s Protection Act (SPA)
  • Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)

Read more information on the statutes enforced by OSHA.

You may file your whistleblower complaint using any of these filing options:

  1. Online - Use the Online Whistleblower Complaint Form to submit your complaint to OSHA. Complaints received online from employees located in States with OSHA-approved State Plans will be forwarded to the appropriate State Plan for response.
  2. Fax/Mail/Email – Fax, mail, or email a letter describing your complaint, or a printed copy of your completed Online Whistleblower Complaint Form to your local OSHA Regional or Area Office. Please make sure that your correspondence includes your name, mailing address, email address, and telephone or fax number so we can contact you to follow up.
  3. Telephone - Call your local OSHA Regional or Area Office. OSHA staff can discuss your complaint with you and respond to any questions you may have.
  4. In person – Visit your local OSHA Regional or Area Office. OSHA staff can accept your verbal or written complaint and provide information as needed.

OSHA accepts complaints in any language.  If you need assistance, such as a foreign language interpreter, please contact your local OSHA Regional or Area Office.

None of these items are required, but they are helpful to the investigator who will be investigating your complaint:

  • Documentation regarding additional complaints, such as a safety or health complaint or other statutorily protected complaint with OSHA or another enforcement agency
  • Copies of any relevant, lawfully obtained documents, such as emails, phone records, text messages, activity logs, meeting notes, work orders, letters, or memoranda, related to your complaint
  • Copies of any hiring and/or termination letters
  • A copy of the employer’s handbook for employees and/or collective bargaining agreement
  • Copies of any disciplinary action(s) that you received during your employment
  • A current description of your job
  • A list of names and telephone numbers of the potential witnesses who can confirm your allegations. Please include a brief summary of what you believe each witness may know.
  • The names, titles, and contact information for the management officials who made the personnel decision that you are complaining about
  • The names, titles, and contact information for the individuals who processed the paperwork regarding the personnel decision at issue (secretarial, clerical, or human resources personnel)
  • Copies of your last five (5) pay stubs
  • Copies of documents from any other proceedings (for example, EEOC complaints or lawsuits) between you and the company
  • Copies of all documents from unemployment or worker’s compensation proceedings related to the incident(s) discussed in your complaint

OSHA conducts an interview of each complainant to determine the need for an investigation.  If OSHA conducts an investigation, it will also obtain information from the employer and witnesses as needed.  If evidence supports the employee’s claim of retaliation, OSHA will take action that may include requiring the employer to restore the employee’s job, earnings, and benefits, as well as granting other appropriate relief.  Additional information about the investigation can be found here.

The procedures for investigating workplace retaliation complaints are contained in the OSHA Whistleblower Investigations Manual.