OSHA Seeing Reports Under New Whistleblower Acts

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it is now overseeing worker retaliation complaints filed under two new whistleblower statutes: the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

This comes after months of evaluations and meetings surrounding the agency’s whistleblower program.

Information on the new acts include:

  • Under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblower’s complaints of retaliation for reporting criminal antitrust violations to their superiors or the federal government; or for showing cause, testifying or participating in, or otherwise assisting an investigation or proceeding related to antitrust law violations.
  • In Anti-Money Laundering Act cases, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblower’s retaliation complaints for reporting money laundering-related violations to their superior or the federal government; or for showing cause, testifying or participating in, or otherwise assisting an investigation or proceeding related to a violation of anti-money laundering laws.

OSHA has yet to issue final rules for these statutes; until it does, complaints will be processed using procedures under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century.

Recent Whistleblower Background

In April, the DOL issued a bulletin reminding employers that they cannot retaliate against workers reporting unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OSHA released the memo to employers reminding them that acts of retaliation such as termination, demotion, denial of overtime or promotion, or reduction in pay or hours are illegal.

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”

In the bulletin, OSHA pointed to its Whistleblower Protection Program and noted that workers have the right to file a whistleblower complaint “if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by the agency.”

The agency noted that it enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees in various environments including safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws.

After that, OSHA held a series of meetings. At one such meeting, in May, OSHA asked for comments on:

  • How can OSHA better deliver its whistleblower services?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • Where should OSHA target whistleblower outreach efforts?

Months later, in October, similar situations were asked in another meeting, which included:

  • How OSHA can better deliver whistleblower customer service?
  • What types of assistance OSHA can provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • Are there particular whistleblowing issues in the healthcare, retail and grocery industries of which OSHA should be aware?
   

Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety; Whistle blowing

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