OSHA releases newly updated manual for whistleblower retaliation investigations
September 23, 2011 - Comments Off
The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a newly updated manual for investigations of whistleblower retaliation. The manual, which replaces a previous edition from 2003, is part of a larger effort by OSHA to improve the handling of retaliation claims.
OSHA is responsible for investigating employees’ whistleblower complaints under 21 federal statutes, ranging from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (corporate fraud), to the Energy Reorganization Act (nuclear safety), to the AIR 21 law (aviation safety) to Consumer Finance Protection (consumer credit). A recent report by the Government Accountability Office pointed out weaknesses in OSHA’s investigator training program and auditing practices. The new manual contains several significant changes, including: provisions for whistleblowers to file complains in writing or orally in all languages, a requirement that investigators attempt to interview claimants, and an expanded chapter on Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower law.
OSHA issued the new manual at the opening of its first-ever nationwide training conference for whistleblower investigators, held in Orlando September 20–22. Katz, Marshall & Banks partner David J. Marshall, who addressed the conference on a panel of lawyers who represent clients in the OSHA whistleblower program, told the assembled investigators that he was impressed with the measures their agency was taking improving whistleblower protections. “OSHA’s investigators are a very capable and hard-working group who shoulder a great deal of responsibility for protecting whistleblower rights in the workplace,” Marshall said after the training conference. “The new investigations manual will better equip them to handle the increasingly complicated task of analyzing claim under a growing number of whistleblower laws.”