Search form

OSHA Tests New Program to Expedite Whistleblower Claims

  • August 25, 2016

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.

Under the Whistleblower Protection Program, employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor to request an investigation.

Administrative law judges may order the same remedies as OSHA, including back pay, compensatory damages, authorized punitive damages, attorney fees, and reinstatement. Effective August 1, the pilot covers the agency’s San Francisco region, which includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the islands of American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam.

Barbara Goto, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco, said, “The ultimate goal is to bring about quicker resolution for whistleblowers and their employers regarding claims of retaliation for reporting safety and other concerns on the job.”

To qualify for expedited processing, a claim must be filed under a statute that allows for de novo review by an administrative law judge. Depending on the statute, 30 days or 60 days must have passed from the date the complainant first filed the claim with OSHA.  OSHA also must have interviewed the complainant and determined that the complaint contains the basic elements of a retaliation claim. Further, the complainant and the respondent must be given the opportunity to submit written responses, meet with an OSHA investigator, and present witness statements. Finally, the complainant must receive a copy of the respondent’s submissions and an opportunity to reply.

If the criteria are satisfied, OSHA officials will evaluate the claim to determine whether reasonable cause exists to believe there was a violation of the statute and either (1) dismiss the claim and notify the complainant of the right to continue before an administrative law judge, (2) issue merit findings as quickly as possible, or (3) deny the request.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

Please contact Jackson Lewis with any questions about this and other workplace developments.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm with more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries. Having built its reputation on providing premier workplace law representation to management, the firm has grown to include leading practices in the areas of government relations, healthcare and sports law. For more information, visit www.jacksonlewis.com.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

January 23, 2019

U.S. House Committee to Focus on Workforce Protections

January 23, 2019

Signaling a renewed emphasis on workforce protections at the opening of the 116th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives has changed the name of its committee with jurisdiction over labor matters back to the Committee on Education and Labor. It was called the Committee on Education and the Workforce when Republicans held the... Read More

January 7, 2019

2019: The Year Ahead for Employers

January 7, 2019

Over the past year, state and local governments responded in a variety of ways to national policy, and the midterm elections painted a picture of what’s in store for employers in 2019 and beyond. Jackson Lewis’ annual report outlines upcoming issues, trends, legislation and regulations employers need to be aware of in the coming year... Read More

January 2, 2019

Retail Industry Workplace Law Update – Winter 2019

January 2, 2019

Class Action Trends Report The latest issue of our quarterly report on developments in class action litigation focuses on “joint employers” and covers the following topics: Are you my employer? A patchwork of tests Only in California Prevention pointer Read the Report … OSHA: Certain Safety Incentive Programs, Post... Read More

Related Practices