Who may file. An employee may file, or have filed by any person on the employee's behalf, a complaint
alleging a violation of section 405.
Nature of filing. No particular form of complaint is required.
Place of filing. The complaint should be filed with the OSHA Area Director responsible for enforcement
activities in the geographical area where the employee resides or was employed, but filing with any OSHA officer or employee is sufficient. Addresses
and telephone numbers for these officials are set forth in local directories.
Time for filing.
Section 405(c)(1) provides that an employee who believes that he has been discriminated against in
violation of section 405 (a) or (b) ". . . may, within one hundred and eighty days after such alleged violation occurs," file or have filed by any
person on the employee's behalf a complaint with the Secretary.
A major purpose of the 180-day period in this provision is to allow the Secretary to decline to
entertain complaints which have become stale. Accordingly, complaints not filed within 180 days of an alleged violation will ordinarily be considered
to be untimely.
However, there are circumstances which will justify tolling of the 180-day period on the basis of
recognized equitable principles or because of extenuating circumstances, e.g., where the employer has concealed or misled the employee regarding the
grounds for discharge or other adverse action; or where the discrimination is in the nature of a continuing violation. The pendency of
grievance-arbitration proceedings or filing with another agency are examples of circumstances which do not justify a tolling of the 180-day period.
The Assistant Secretary will not ordinarily investigate complaints which are determined to be untimely.
Relationship to section 11(c) complaints. A complaint filed by an employee within thirty days of the
alleged violation or otherwise timely filed pursuant to section 11(c) of the OSHA Act, which alleges discrimination relating to safety or health,
shall be deemed to be a complaint filed under both section 405 and section 11(c). Normal procedures for investigations under both sections will be
followed, except as otherwise provided.
Upon receipt of a valid complaint, OSHA shall notify the named person of the filing of the complaint by
providing a copy of the complaint, sanitized to protect witness confidentiality if necessary, and shall also notify the named person of his or her
rights under 29 CFR 1978.103(b) and (c).