Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976

Also known as: RCRA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1976

Gerald Ford

Signed into law by Gerald Ford
October 21, 1976

RCRA is the primary law governing the disposal of solid and hazardous waste. RCRA amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. RCRA set national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and natural resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring that wastes are managed in an environmentally-sound manner. RCRA includes a provision that protects whistleblowers who are retaliated against for reporting potential violations regarding the disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

Enforcement & Remedies

An employee who believes he has been retaliated against in violation of RCRA must file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 30 days of the retaliation.

OSHA will investigate the claim and may order preliminary relief such as job reinstatement.

Either party can appeal the OSHA outcome by requesting a hearing before a DOL Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Either party can appeal an ALJ’s decision to the DOL’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) — and can appeal an ARB decision to the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over the state in which the adverse action took place.

A prevailing employee is entitled to “make whole” relief. Remedies may include: (1) reinstatement; (2) back pay; (3) compensatory damages; and (4) attorney fees and litigation costs, including expert witness fees.