Food is a necessary element of human survival. It is also the most common source of foodborne illness. To reduce the occurrence, companies that manufacture, process, package, distribute, transport, or otherwise participate in the handling of food are held to certain safety standards. Furthermore, employees are protected when they notify the authorities of a violation. Unfortunately, a company that is willing to violate safety standards may also be willing to violate employment laws. If you suspect that you were wrongfully terminated or otherwise retaliated against by your employer for whistleblowing, know your rights and your options.
Protections Offered to Whistleblowers
Under the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), employees are protected from employer retaliation if they provide information about a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), or if they report an act that they reasonably believed to be a violation. This includes reports made to the employer, the state attorney general, or federal government. Employees are also protected when they refuse to participate in an act that they believe may be in violation of the FD&C, and/or if they participate in proceeding against their employer for a violation of the FD&C.
What is Employer Retaliation?
Retaliation from an employer can come in many forms. It could be a wrongful termination or a layoff, a demotion, disciplinary action, denial of a promotion, intimidation or threats, job reassignment, or blacklisting for employment within the same industry. Essentially, it is any negative action that affects your employment, income, or employability – all of which are strictly prohibited by law.
Understanding Your Rights
If you reported your employer for a violation or otherwise engaged in protected actions and suspect that you have been retaliated against by your employer, you have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If, upon investigation, your employer is found to have been in violation of the FSMA and the protections that it offers you, you may be owed compensation for your losses, including:
- Payment for lost wages,
- Restoration of benefits,
- Additional monetary or benefits relief.
How Our Employment Law Attorneys Can Help
Complaints involving a violation of the FSMA are complex and time sensitive matters. Furthermore, you need to ensure that all facts about your case are included in your claim. Our Arlington Heights, Illinois employment law attorneys know how to effectively navigate these complaints and can help ease the stress you may be feeling after the loss of employment, benefits, or income. To learn more, contact DGAA and schedule a confidential consultation today.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.