Title: Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
Statute: 42 U.S.C. § 9610
Governing Agency: United States Department of Labor
General Overview: This federal act referred to as CERCLA has the overarching goal of cleaning up hazardous waste sites, including abandoned sites, by holding parties responsible for destroying the environment and exposing employees and others to health and safety risks. In order to assure this act can be exercised to fulfill its goals, protections to employees and representatives of employees who file claims or participate in these investigations are covered and protected.
Who is covered?
Any employee or representative who is discriminated or retaliated against by their employer for partaking in a protected act under CERCLA.
Who is not covered?
Protections will not apply to any employee or representative of an employee who acts without direction of their employer and deliberately causes a violation under this act.
What is covered?
-Employees covered under CERCLA cannot be retaliated or discriminated against for:
- providing information to state or federal government about topics pertaining to CERCLA
- filing a claim
- cooperating or participating in any investigation of an employer for an alleged violation under CERCLA
- testifying in any proceeding resulting from CERCLA
-Illegal retaliation by employers includes:
- discriminating against claiming party
- discharging claiming party
- refusing to hire claiming party or representative of claiming party
- denial of promotions
- unjustified negative evaluations and/or references
- increased surveillance
- any other action that is likely to deter an employee from pursuing their rights
Note: Petty, slight actions are not considered acts of discrimination. Some of these include: annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.
How do I submit a claim? Step-by-Step Approach:
1. If you believe your employer has violated a provision of this act, you must submit a claim within 30 days of the alleged violation. Complaints are submitted to the Secretary of Labor. See DOL’s contact information
2. The Secretary of Labor will review the complaint and open an investigation if they deem appropriate. If an investigation is opened a hearing will be set so each party can respond to the opposing party’s allegations. Each party will receive a notice of the hearing five days prior.
3. After reviewing the complaint, reports, hearings, and finding of fact; the Secretary of Labor will issue an order, outlining the requirements each party must take.
4. If either party wishes to appeal, they must do so within 30 days of the Secretary’s order. Appeals are to be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the jurisdiction where the alleged violation occurred.
Rights and Remedies:
- Reinstatement of employee to former position
- Back pay (with interest)
- Compensatory damages
- Reasonable attorney’s fees
- ,000 award to a party who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction of any person or party in violation subject to criminal penalty under this act