Facing retaliation after reporting FWPCA violations

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act regulates the types and amounts of pollutants that anyone can discharge into certain waterways across the country. Clean water is essential to life, and the federal government has tried for decades to prohibit actions that endanger the country's water systems.

However, individuals, small businesses and large corporations continue to use bodies of water as dumping grounds. You may have seen this happen at your job. Perhaps your employer even forced you to participate in the dumping of pollutants into protected waters. If you want to report these violations to the Environmental Protection Agency, or if you have already begun proceedings, only one thing could hold you back.

Retaliation

Violating the FWPCA can cost your employer dearly. Depending on the extent of the pollution, your employer might face many thousands of dollars in fines and even prison time. It might concern you that your employer or co-workers will turn against you because of the consequences of your report to the EPA.

The FWPCA protects you from retaliation if you do any of the following:

  • Contact the EPA with information about a violation of FWPCA in your company
  • File or participate in any proceeding related to the FWPCA
  • Testify about violations that you witnessed or know about
  • Refuse to do any jobs that you believe violate the FWPCA

Nevertheless, you could already feel the negative reaction from your employer. In addition to violating the FWPCA, your boss might violate whistleblower protection laws if he or she does any of the following:

  • Fires you, lays you off or demotes you
  • Denies you overtime, promotion or benefits
  • Intimidates you or makes threats
  • Reduces your pay or cuts your hours

If you experience any of these retaliatory actions, you have 30 days to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If you don't have legal representation yet, you might want to consider it at this point.

You are not standing alone

Even if you know that you did the right thing by reporting the dumping of toxins or pollutants into Louisiana's waters, that might bring small comfort if your future ends up on the line. Your boss will more than likely feel pressured because of the fines and penalties the business now faces, and you could receive the brunt of the company's displeasure. Fortunately, you don't have to go through this alone.