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Can I be punished for complaining about safety issues at work?

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Can I be punished for complaining about safety issues at work?
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Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic

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Can I be punished for complaining about safety issues at work?
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Reviewed: 
March 31, 2018
Answer

Both the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Canada Labour Code say that your employer can't punish you because you ask them to follow safety rules.

This applies if you complain to your employer about safety issues or ask them about your rights.

Your employer is also not allowed to punish you for talking to the government about the safety of your workplace. That means that you can't be punished for:

  • talking to an inspector from the Ministry of Labour
  • taking part in someone else's hearing at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)
  • making a complaint to the Ministry of Labour or the OLRB
  • calling the police if you're in immediate danger

Sometimes it's hard to tell if your employer is punishing you. But if you've made a safety complaint, your employer can't use that as a reason to:

  • fire you
  • suspend you
  • discipline you
  • transfer you to another position
  • reduce your hours
  • not give you a raise or other benefits
  • harass or threaten you
  • intimidate or bully you

If your employer does any of those things, and you think it's because you made a safety complaint, your employer may be breaking the law. The legal term for this is unlawful reprisal.

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