On March 5, 2015, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) issued its “Final Rule” establishing the procedures for handling retaliation complaints brought under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”). Section 806, as amended by Dodd-Frank, protects employees of publicly traded companies, as well as employees of contractors, subcontractors, and agents of

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced yesterday that whistleblowers covered by any one of 22 statutes administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – which includes whistleblower retaliation complaints under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) — can now file complaints online.  Section 806 of SOX affords protection to employees who have allegedly

by Allen B. Roberts and Michael J. Slocum

Under a final rule (“Final Rule”) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), commercial motor carriers that own or lease a vehicle in a business affecting interstate commerce or assign employees to operate such a vehicle are impacted by Surface Transportation Assistance Act of

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced in a May 17, 2012 notice published in the Federal Register that it will establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee (“Committee”) in an effort “to improve the fairness, efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of OSHA’s whistleblower protection activities.” Creation of the Committee follows OSHA’s March 2012 reorganization providing for

The Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) on March 28, 2012 held that the whistleblower protection provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA” or “Act”) are not limited to those who raise concerns only as to a “consumer product” as defined in the Act, but extends to any matter falling within the jurisdiction

Written By:  Eric J. Conn

OSHA is signaling a major departure from its position on acceptable exceptions to the Lockout/Tagout requirements in the agency’s electrical safety standards. Historically, employers have been permitted to conduct electrical maintenance near energized parts in data centers that host critical business operations (i.e., operations which must stay live 24/7), under

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced on March 1, 2012 that its Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program (“WPP”) will now report directly to the Department of Labor’s Office of the Assistant Secretary, rather than to its Directorate of Enforcement Programs. The restructuring signals an elevated priority placed on enforcement of the whistleblower protection laws falling under OSHA’s jurisdiction, and suggests that the Agency intends to devote increased efforts and resources to this area in the future.

WPP Had Not Been Sufficiently Meeting Its Mission to Protect and Incentivize Whistleblowers

OSHA’s WPP is responsible for enforcing the various whistleblower protection provisions of twenty-one separate federal statutes. These include such laws as the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Affordable Care Act, and they offer protections to employees who bring to light violations of a wide variety of laws, including airline safety, environmental remediation, food safety, public transportation and railroad, maritime and securities laws. While some differences exist between the details of the particular statutes, in general they prohibit an employer from terminating or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against an employee who reports or provides information regarding a suspected violation of the law, either to internal audit personnel or to the government. The statutes vest OSHA with jurisdiction to investigate complaints of retaliation against whistleblowers, and to award appropriate relief which frequently includes reinstatement, attorneys’ fees and costs, compensatory damages, and in some cases even punitive damages.

A pair of Government Accountability Office audits in 2009 and 2010 had identified substantial problems with the WPP. In particular, an August 2010 GAO Report No. 10-722, titled “Whistleblower Protection: Sustained Management Attention Needed to Address Long-Standing Program Weaknesses,” found that “OSHA has done little to ensure that investigators have the necessary training and equipment to do their jobs, and that it lacks sufficient internal controls to ensure that the whistleblower program operates as intended.”


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