On August 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (“OIG”)—the Department’s watchdog—released a report finding that the COVID-19 global pandemic has significantly increased the number of whistleblower complaints received by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). OSHA’s Whistleblower Program enforces 23 statutes that prohibit employers
Articles Discussing OSHA Retaliation Claims.
Last week OSHA announced the release of its “Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliations Programs.” The publication is “intended to assist employers in creating workplaces that are free of retaliation … This document is advisory in nature and informational in content. It is not mandatory for employers, and does not interpret or create legal obligations.” Another caveat is that “This guidance is not intended to advise employees about their rights or protections under any whistleblower statute enforced by OSHA or any other government agency.”
OSHA has announced it will delay enforcement of the employee involvement provisions of its recently published final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses until December 1, 2016. The delay is in response to a request by a federal district court in Texas, which is considering a complaint challenging implementation of the rule. As discussed in our June 20, 2016 Alert, the rule’s anti-retaliation provision states that procedures that deter or discourage employee reporting are not reasonable. This provision has created concern regarding the validity of employer disciplinary policies, mandatory post-incident drug testing, and employee safety incentive plans. Additionally, OSHA’s position that blanket post-incident drug testing policies deter employees from reporting workplace injuries has caused concern among employers regarding the validity of such policies.
OSHA has decided once again to postpone enforcement of the anti-retaliation provision contained in its new injury and illness tracking rule until December 1 in order to allow a federal court time to review a motion challenging the provision. OSHA initially intended to implement the provision on August 10, 2016. At that time, the roll-out was delayed to allow time for outreach to the community the rule affects.
In response to a request from a federal judge, OSHA has agreed to extend the effective date of the anti-retaliation provisions in it’s new final rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses until December 1, 2016.
New OSHA anti-retaliation regulations impact post-accident drug testing policies and workplace safety incentive programs.
On November 6, 2015, OSHA issued a draft policy entitled “Protecting Whistleblowers: Recommended Practices for Employers for Preventing and Addressing Retaliation,” for which it informally seeks public comment through January 19, 2016. The draft policy seeks to facilitate an environment in which employees can freely raise OSHA concerns without the fear of employer retaliation. This whistleblower protection policy specifically focuses on improving safety incentive programs that employers could use in a retaliatory manner against workers who raise such concerns.