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Safety Issues, OSHA Complaints, Retaliation

Air-carrier safety issues are addressed in my whistleblowers article .

If you believe your workplace is unsafe in some way, the first thing to do might be to call OSHA and talk with a technician about the potential safety problem. You might learn from the technician that OSHA’s requirements are being violated. You do not have to file a formal OSHA complaint in order to have a conversation with a technician. Look in your local phone book for the OSHA office nearest you. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Labor. Spend some time on the OSHA website and you will see that the Federal regulations are extremely detailed regarding many safety issues. The OSHA website has a directory of all of its offices.

TRAP: Employers do not like it when you call OSHA. OSHA is one of the more aggressive Federal agencies. If OSHA sees a safety problem, they tend to get involved quite fast. They contact the employer and talk about it, or for more serious problems they come to the job site un-announced for a safety inspection. OSHA regularly fines employers for safety problems.

The employer usually has a pretty good idea of who contacted OSHA, even though OSHA might not tell them who the complainer was. The employer knows, usually, because before the employee called OSHA the employee probably already raised the same safety issue with his supervisor and been unsuccessful in getting the problem fixed.

You need to contact a lawyer if you get retaliated against for raising workplace safety issues. But here’s a TRAP: if you get wrongfully terminated or retaliation occur lonjshcf. moncler mens shoes sales for making a safety complaint, the court will closely scrutinize whether your complaint was a good faith complaint about a sufficiently serious safety problem. If the court concludes that your complaint was not about a sufficiently serious safety problem, then the court might throw out your case. But you will enjoy the highest degree of protection from retaliation if you actually file an OSHA complaint, rather than simply tell the employer of the safety issue.

OSHA will also take your complaint about getting retaliated against for making OSHA complaints. You should call OSHA to complain about the retaliation immediately after the retaliation occurs. If you wait, OSHA won’t take your complaint about the retaliation. But in my opinion, OSHA does not get as aggressive in resolving retaliation complaints as it does in resolving safety issues. Typically, the employer allows enough time to pass before the retaliation so that OSHA sees a difficult time proving a connection between the complaint and the retaliation, and so OSHA chooses not to help you. Visit OSHA’s web page regarding discrimination against safety-related whistleblowers .

Remedies for retaliation for making safety or OSHA complaints:

If you complain of retaliation to OSHA, OSHA can order that you be rehired with backpay.

If you file a lawsuit for retaliation for complaining of safety issues, there are legal theories which, if the court accepts them, might entitle you to win compensatory and punitive damages, as well as backpay and attorney fees.

complaint definition in law

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The Attorney General’s Office (the "Office") has established the Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team (OMLET) to handle inquiries and conduct investigations and enforcement proceedings relating to complaints that public bodies have violated the Open Meeting Law. Investigations are conducted when OMLET receives a signed, written complaint that describes conduct that, if verified, would constitute a violation.


OMLET receives a number of inquiries each year alleging that homeowner associations have violated Arizona's Open Meeting Law ( A.R.S. 38-431-431.09 ).  The Open Meeting Law does not apply to homeowner associations.  Although not subject to Arizona's Open Meeting Law, homeowner associations are strongly encouraged to always conduct public meetings that are properly noticed.

For more information on homeowner associations and the Open Meeting Law, please click HERE .

How We Investigate Complaints

The Attorney General’s Office is authorized by statute to investigate and resolve allegations that public bodies have violated the Open Meeting Law.  The statute requires that complaints submitted to the Office be in writing and signed.  We do not act on anonymous complaints.  Complaints and supporting materials are public records and may be disclosed as required by law.  Upon receipt of the complaint, the case is assigned to a member of the OMLET.  The OMLET member will review the complaint and may contact the public body and other witnesses for a response to your allegations and any other relevant evidence. If necessary, the OMLET member will contact you to obtain further information. In order to expedite the process, please consolidate your complaints as much as possible.

How We Resolve Complaints

After gathering the relevant evidence, the OMLET member will work with the public body to reach a resolution of the case.  The Office’s primary mission in enforcing the Open Meeting Law is to ensure compliance and educate the public and public officials about the requirements of the statute.  Most cases are resolved with mandatory training and a term of monitoring in which an independent attorney ensures that the public body is complying with the Open Meeting Law.  In serious cases, the OMLET member may seek a civil penalty of $500 per incident.  If the public body refuses to reach an agreed resolution, the OMLET member may file suit in superior court seeking that the appropriate remedies be imposed by court order.  If the evidence establishes that a public officer violated the Open Meeting Law with the intent to deprive the public of information, the OMLET member may seek to have the officer removed from office.

How You Can Help Us

To expedite an investigation as much as possible, please provide as much specific information as you can about the alleged violations, such as the dates and times of events, the people present, and the content of any conversations; this should include the name and contact information for other witnesses who are willing to provide evidence about the alleged violations.  Also, please include any documents, photographs, videos, or other evidence that support your allegations.  


If you are one of a group of people interested in filing a complaint against a public body, please select one person to file a complaint and attach written statements from the remaining complainants.

For more information and resources regarding the Open Meeting Law, click HERE. To file an online open meeting law complaint, please click HERE.  While electronic submission of Open Meeting Law complaints through the above link is preferred, complaints may be submitted by mail using this downloadable PDF .   Should you have any questions, please call 602-542-3725.


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The pleading that initiates a civil action; in criminal law , the document that sets forth the basis upon which a person is to be charged with an offense.

Contents 1 Civil Complaint 2 Criminal Complaint 3 Further Readings 4 See Also Civil Complaint

A civil complaint initiates a civil lawsuit by setting forth for the court a claim for relief from damages caused, or wrongful conduct engaged in, by the defendant. The complaint outlines all of the plaintiff's theories of relief, or causes of action (e.g., negligence , battery , assault), and the facts supporting each cause of action . The complaint also serves as notice to the defendant that legal action is underway. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern construction of complaints filed in federal courts. Many state courts follow the same rules as the federal courts, or similar rules.

The caption opens the complaint and identifies the location of the action, the court, the docket or file number, and the title of the action. Each party to the lawsuit must be identified in the caption and must be a real party in interest, that is, either a person who has been injured or harmed in some way, or a person accused of causing the injury or harm. In addition, a party must have the capacity to sue or to be sued. If a party lacks capacity owing to mental incompetence, for example, the suit may be dismissed. Any number of parties may be named and joined in a single lawsuit as long as all meet the requirements of capacity and all are real parties in interest.

Courts of limited–subject matter jurisdiction, such as federal courts, require the complaint to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. In general-jurisdiction courts, such as most state courts, a jurisdictional allegation is unnecessary.

The most critical part of the complaint is the claim, or cause of action. The claim is a concise and direct statement of the basis upon which the plaintiff seeks relief. It sets forth the rule of law that forms the basis of the lawsuit and recounts the facts that support the rule of law. Finally, the claim concludes that the defendant violated the rule of law, thereby causing the plaintiff's injuries or damages, and that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. For example: A negligence claim might begin with a statement that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; that the defendant breached that duty; and that, as a result, the plaintiff suffered injuries or other damages. The conclusion then states that because the defendant's breach was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation from the defendant.

The complaint may state separate claims or theories of relief in separate counts. For example, in a negligence case, count 1 might be for negligence, count 2 for breach of warranty , and count 3 for fraud . Each count contains a separate statement of the rule of law, supporting facts, and conclusion. There is no limit to the number of counts a plaintiff may include in one complaint.

Federal courts and other jurisdictions that follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a brief, simple pleading known as a notice pleading. The notice pleading informs the defendant of the allegations and the basis for the claim. The rules require that the complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civil P. 8[a]). Rule 8(c)(1) states, "Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct."

Following the claim, the prayer for relief or demand for judgment appears. Commonly called the wherefore clause, the prayer for relief demands judgment for the plaintiff and relief in the form of the remedies the plaintiff requests. The plaintiff may demand relief in several forms. Money damages are compensation for injuries and loss. General money damages cover injuries directly related to the defendant's actions—such as pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Special money damages arise indirectly from the defendant's actions and may include lost wages or medical bills. The court

awards exemplary or punitive damages when the defendant's actions are particularly egregious. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter similar wrongdoing. Other types of damages are recovery of property, injunctions, and specific performance of a contractual obligation. The plaintiff may demand alternative relief or several different types of relief, in the same complaint (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8[a]).

A demand for a jury trial may be included near the end of the complaint. The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff's attorney, indicating that the attorney has read the complaint; that it is grounded in fact, to the best of the attorney's knowledge, information, and belief; and that it is brought in good faith .

Criminal Complaint

A criminal complaint charges the person named or an unknown person with a particular offense. For example, after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, authorities issued a John Doe complaint, charging an unknown person or persons with the crime.

A criminal complaint must state the facts that constitute the offense and must be supported by probable cause . It may be initiated by the victim, a police officer, the district attorney, or another interested party. After the complaint is filed, it is presented to a magistrate, who reviews it to determine whether sufficient cause exists to issue an arrest warrant. If the magistrate determines that the complaint does not state sufficient probable cause, the complaint is rejected and a warrant is not issued. In federal court, the complaint is presented under oath (Fed. R. Crim. P. 3).

Further Readings

Federal Employees News Digest, eds. 2000. Whistleblowing: A Federal Employee's Guide to Charges, Procedures, and Penalties. Reston, Va.: Federal Employees News Digest.

Kahan, Jeffrey B. 2001. "How to Prepare Response to Complaints." Los Angeles Lawyer 24 (April).

McCord, James W.H. "Drafting the Complaint: Defending and Testing the Lawsuit." Practising Law Institute 447.

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