Florida employees who have been terminated in retaliation for filing an
OSHA Compliant and who seek to bring a private cause of action will have to rely
on F.S. 448.102.
While the act does provide that, “no person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to OSHA.” 29 U.S.C. Section 660(c)(1), OSHA does not provide for a private cause of action for retaliatory discharge for filing OSHA Complaints.
The procedure for cases of retaliatory discharge in connection with the filing of OSHA complaints are limited to those pursued by the Secretary of Labor. As for Federal remedies provided for by the act, any employee who believes that he has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation of (29 U.S.C. Section 660(c)(1)) may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor within thirty days. 29 U.S.C. Section 660(c)(2). Upon receipt of such complaint, the Secretary may investigate as he deems appropriate. If the Secretary believes there has been a violation of (29 U.S.C. Section 660(c)(1)), then he may bring action in any appropriate United States district court action against such person. These courts shall have jurisdiction to order all appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement with back pay. 29 U.S.C. Section 660(c)(2).
However, Florida’s Whistle-Blower’s Act, F.S. 448.102 does make provisions for private causes of action. Specifically, an employer may not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee disclosed or threatened to disclose an employer’s illegal conduct. Vanacore v. UNC Ardco Inc., app. 4 Dist., 697 So.2d 892 (1997). Thus, even though Florida employees who have been retaliated against for filing an OSHA complaint have no right to private redress under OSHA, these employees may have a private cause of action under Florida law.