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Solid Waste Disposal Act

Also known as: SWDA

Jimmy Carter

Signed into law by Jimmy Carter
October 20, 1976

Though such behavior may seem outrageous by today’s standards, many companies up until the 1950s and 60s lacked basic plans to dispose of their waste product. Some burned their refuse; others simply dumped whatever they had into nearby fields. Recognizing the disastrous effects that such unfettered disposal was having on the environment, Congress passed the SWDA which increased federal oversight and involvement in the management of solid waste. In addition to setting forth a comprehensive permit system, the SWDA prescribes various methods for disposing of household, municipal, commercial, and industrial waste. The anti-retaliation provisions of the SWDA prevent retaliation against employees who disclose to the government what they believe to be violations of the law.

Enforcement & Remedies

Under the SWDA, employees who suffer illegal workplace retaliation must file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), within 30 days. OSHA will investigate complaints and can order remedies; employees who are unhappy with the result can appeal to an administrative judge at the DOL, with additional levels of review available within the DOL and in the federal courts. Remedies may include reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages.

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