Workers are the eyes and ears of workplaces. When they can report hazards without fear they not only avert danger for themselves but entire workplaces -- and in a time of COVID, families and communities as well. Too often employers use the threat of deportation to silence employees. OSHA must do everything in its power to protect workers who speak up - with strong whistleblower protections (including responding to the Inspector General's recent recommendations), strengthening the OSHA deconfliction memo and expanding the UVisa program and the use of parole and deferred action to undocumented immigrants who are victims of or witnesses to workplace crime. Without Congressional action OSHA can still fill vacancies in the 11c program, improve investigations through better triage systems, use the bully pulpit to make it clear that retaliation is against the law, and draw attention to the consequences through press releases as citations are issued.
That said, Congress should be called upon to strengthen OSHA 11c whistleblower protections, including extending the statute of limitations from 30-days to 180-days; creating a private right of action; applying a "contributing factor" rather than "but for" causation; establishing a rebuttable presumption of retaliation when the adverse action occurs within 90 days of the protected activity; and otherwise modernizing the standard consistent with all of the modern whistleblower laws.