A February 20, 2019 article from Bloomberg Law provides statistics to explain the significant delays experienced by litigators and attorneys alike in Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s investigation of whistleblower claims A substantial increase in the number of whistleblower complaints filed with OSHA over the past five years and a contemporaneous decrease in the number of investigators available to investigate these claims has led to longer waits for OSHA decisions and delays in the adjudication of claims.
Articles Discussing OSHA Whistleblower Protections.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a revised online whistleblower complaint form.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new guidance designed to protect the rights of whistleblowers who reach settlements approved by OSHA.
In an effort to speed up claims under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program, the Labor Department’s San Francisco region has launched a new process, called the “Expedited Case Processing Pilot.” Under the new process, OSHA may halt certain whistleblower investigations at the complainant’s request and issue findings for the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges to issue a final ruling.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a pilot program in the Midwest region to shame employers who allegedly violate their employees’ whistleblower rights egregiously, but a critic contends the initiative may violate a company’s due process rights and unfairly ruin its business reputation.
On April 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued final procedural rules for investigating whistleblower cases under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The new rules give employees who are retaliated against for exposing possible food safety violations the right to reinstatement, money damages, and attorney’s fees – and even to a jury trial in federal court.
Darrell Whitman is a former attorney and professor who became an Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs (OWPP) investigator in 2010. Whitman was a GS-12 Regional Investigator for OWPP, the U.S. Department of Labor, and OSHA. In 2011, Whitman and several other investigators began challenging abuses of power in OWPP’s Region 9 offices in San Francisco.
Employers face the possibility of an increase in whistleblower complaints under new guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that relaxes the standard for investigators tasked with determining if a violation of a whistleblower statute exists. OSHA provides whistleblower protection under 22 federal statutes.
On January 28, 2016, OSHA released an updated Whistleblower Investigations Manual (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-03-005) to replace the manual dated April 21, 2015. The new manual makes three significant changes:
Continuing its emphasis on its Whistleblower Protection Program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an updated Whistleblower Investigations Manual on May 21, 2015. OSHA enforces whistleblower provisions contained in 22 separate statutes, including Section 11(c) of OSHA-Act, the Affordable Care Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, and the recently added Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (relating to motor vehicle safety). The updated Whistleblower Investigations Manual contains several notable changes to Chapter 6 (“Remedies and Settlement Agreements”). They include the following:
During a Senate subcommittee hearing on whistleblowing last month, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Assistant Secretary David Michaels lamented the relatively short 30-day statute of limitations for filing a whistleblower claim under section 11(c) of the OSH Act. According to Michaels, the agency dismisses hundreds of merit cases each year solely on the statute of limitations issue. His oral and written testimony suggested a number of ways to give teeth to what he claimed was the most widely-used whistleblower statute. One suggestion he did not make during the hearing – which is now in operation – is a claim referral program with the National Labor Relations Board (Board).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued an interim final rule and request for comments on the procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the employee protection provision of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). OSHA is charged with overseeing and enforcing the whistleblower provisions of 22 separate statutes.
Effective Thursday, February 13, 2014, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule governing the agency’s future handling of whistleblower complaints under Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which protects workers who disclose food safety concerns.1 While similar to other whistleblower protection statutes in procedure, the new rule follows a trend making it significantly easier for a claimant to establish a prima facie case under the FSMA’s whistleblower protection provisions. Food industry employers should be aware of the new rule and consider implementing plans for managing what may appear to be fairly low-level suggestions or complaints, but could nevertheless qualify as “protected activity” under this new lower threshold for whistleblower protection.
Executive Summary: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently made it easier for disgruntled employees to file whistleblower complaints against their current or former employers. Going forward, employees who believe they have been subjected to retaliation for complaining about an alleged violation of one of the 22 statutes for which OSHA enforces whistleblower protections can file complaints on-line on the OSHA website.