OSHA Proposes Draft Policy Aimed at Preventing Whistleblower Retaliation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a proposed policy to help employers establish an anti-retaliation program to protect employees reporting concerns about workplace conditions or activities that could harm workers or members of the public. The draft document, Protecting Whistleblowers: Recommended Practices for Employers for Preventing and Addressing Retaliation, covers several major themes including:
- A definition of retaliation with several examples;
- Principles for creating an effective anti-retaliation program;
- Implementation of a system for responding to reports of retaliation;
- Elements of effective anti-retaliation training; and
- Monitoring anti-retaliation programs.
It is important to note that OSHA has jurisdiction not only for claims of retaliation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act but also enforces whistleblower protection provided under a number of other statutes, including claims of retaliation under Sarbanes-Oxley. Thus, this proposed policy covers a broad array of claims, including safety complaints, environmental concerns, food safety issues, and possible securities violations, among others.
Interested parties may comment on the draft document until January 19, 2016 and we expect the final document to be issued later in 2016. Some of the guidelines contained in the final document may become new, formal OSHA standards for whistleblower protection.
If you have any questions regarding your whistleblower protection obligations or would like assistance in preparing and filing comments to the proposed policy, please contact Jeffrey M. Embleton, Amy L. Kullik, James A. Budzik, or Ann E. Knuth in our Labor and Employment group.
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