1. Employees and Employers Covered
The purpose of the Clean Air Act (CAA) is to protect and enhance the Nation’s air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare, and to encourage and promote reasonable Federal, State, and local government actions for pollution prevention. The CAA is a comprehensive statute establishing standards for air quality, acceptable pollutants, and related reporting and inspection procedures. The Clean Air Act whistleblower provisions apply to all employees, public and private. And a civil suit may be commenced by “any person” against “any person,” with “person” being defined as “an individual, corporation, partnership, association, State, municipality, political subdivision of a State, and any agency, department, or instrumentality of the United States and any officer, agent, or employee thereof.” Thus, the Act provides broad coverage.
2. Protected Activities
Under the CAA, no employer may discharge or otherwise discriminate against any employee with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the employee commenced or otherwise participated in a proceeding for the administration or enforcement of a requirement or plans imposed by this Act. Whistleblower cases are most often brought when a company misrepresents its emissions levels or fails to comply with reporting and cleanup standards. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who reports any misreporting or noncompliance by the employer.
Protections of employees under this Act shall not apply with respect to any employee who, acting without direction from his employer (or the employer’s agent), deliberately causes a violation of any requirement under the Act.
3. Proving Your Case
Any employee who believes he has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation with this provision may file, within 30 days after such violation occurs, a complaint with the Secretary of Labor.
In order to make a successful claim an employer must be covered by the CAA, the employee must have engaged in some protected activity, the employer must know of the employee’s protected activity, and the employee must have suffered some unfavorable action motivated at least in part by his/her protected activity.
4. Available Remedies
If an employee’s whistleblower claim is successful, he or she may be entitled to reinstatement with previous seniority and benefits, back pay with interest, and other relief including compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
5. Time to File: 30 Days from Alleged Violation.
If you believe that you have a whistleblower claim under this Act, please contact an attorney at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.