There now are two formats for filing a Federal Rail Safety Act whistleblower retaliation complaint with OSHA: short form and long form.
On Line Short Form
OSHA recently gave workers the option to file a whistleblower complaint on line, using the form available at OSHA’s web site. This may be a good option for a worker who does not have an attorney or is under pressure because the 180 day window for filing is about to close (and the 180 days begins to run on the date the employee first learns the railroad would be taking taking the adverse action against him or her). So while the upside is that filing the form electronically will instantly register the complaint as filed, the downside is it may be lacking in persuasive details and supporting material. For a link to the OSHA on line complaint form, click here.
The long form is just another way to describe a detailed written complaint tailored to the facts of an employee’s case. The purpose of the long form complaint is to present the facts and exhibits to the OSHA investigator in such a way that the merit of the claim becomes self-evident. Generally, such complaints are best drafted and refined through an interactive process between an attorney and the employee. For an example of such a long form complaint based on a classic set of facts, click here. For a Summary of the FRSA, click here. For access to the free Rail Whistleblower Library, click here.