One of the more favorable points in the law is that a decision must be made on your complaint within 120 days from the date of filing. You get an answer from the Government in three months. This may seem like a long time, but in regard to Government action, it is remarkable speed.
Keep in mind that the door is always open to settlement of your complaint at any time before, during or after the proceeding. In most cases, after you file your complaint, you will receive an offer to settle from the company if your complaint has any validity. Sometimes, it might be prudent to wait for a formal response to your complaint before accepting any settlement offer.
Decision and remedy
When and if a decision on your complaint is rendered in your favor by the Secretary of Labor, it can include the following :
An order to the employer to abate the violation (if still there).
An order to reinstate the employee to his or her former job, including compensation and back pay, and to restore all privileges and conditions of previous employment.
An order for further compensatory money damages to the employee.
In addition to the above, and on request of the complaining party (employee), the Secretary can assess an additional charge equal to the total amount of your costs, and expenses, including attorney fees and expert witness fees.
You should keep in mind that the mere threat of imposition of these remedies against the employer are the best incentive for a settlement at an early date.
Another point to keep in mind is that if you bring this type of action in bad faith, or for spite or some other reason that is not based on a bona fide complaint, the case will be dismissed as frivolous. You will be charged $1,000 to cover the employer’s attorney fees.
Just like most actions in the Federal arena, either party may appeal an adverse decision by the Secretary of Labor to the U.S. Court of Appeal in the Circuit in which the alleged violation complained about occurred. These appeals must be filed within 60 days of the issuance of the final order in the case.
One of the significant factors noted in the law regarding an appeal is this: If the employer loses the case, there can be no stay on the order that is issued. In other words, the order must be followed immediately and you get swift relief pending whatever appeal is filed by your employer. This factor among others, argues for the employer to let the matter rest and forget about any appeal.
Well, you have seen how the law can protect you—now you must think about the ramifications involved. You will get a reputation as a snitch. and nobody likes a snitch. However, where you can point out significant failures, you may save lives in the process and perhaps be called a hero instead. Use of this complaint procedure will undoubtedly follow you wherever you go and perhaps deter a future employer from hiring you. Keep in mind however, that in most cases, that future employer better have some other reason to reject you or the whole discrimination process could be started again.
Use good judgment
Use good judgment and discretion. The mere fact that an employer knows that this process is available to employees goes a long way in allowing you plenty of room to voice your concerns. No company wants to be embroiled in arguments in public with lawyers and judges. They generally want to keep their dirty laundry in house. Try to solve the problem in-house and who knows, you may get a promotion!
Whistleblower Protection Program
This law protects employees providing air safety information. In short, it states:
(a) Discrimination Against Airline Employees:
No air carrier—may discharge an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the employee:
(1) provided, caused to be provided, or is about to provide (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be provided to the employer or Federal government information relating to any violation, or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety under this subtitle or any other law of the United States;
(2) has filed or caused to be filed, or is about to file (with any knowledge of the employer) or caused to be filed a proceeding ( ie. a lawsuit) relating to any violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal Law relating to air carrier safety under this subtitle or any other law of the United States;
(3) testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding, OR
(4) assisted, or participated or is about to assist or participate in such a proceeding.