Home > Legal Library > Article




Join Matindale-Hubbell Connected


OSHA Debuts Online Form For Whistleblowers To File Complaints




by:
Margaret Hutchins Campbell
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. - Atlanta Office

Jesse C. Ferrantella
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. - San Diego Office

 
December 13, 2013

Previously published on December 10, 2013

The process of filing whistleblower complaints just became a lot easier. On December 5, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) launched a new system that will allow workers to file whistleblower retaliation complaints online.

Under the previous system, whistleblowers could only make complaints to OSHA by filing a written complaint, or by calling the agency’s hotline or regional office. The online system will provide a more convenient avenue for whistleblowers to lodge their complaints and to meet the filing deadlines. It will allow whistleblowers to report violations in a simple form, where they can describe the allegedly retaliatory act by clicking a box from a menu of choices.

According to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) press release, complaints filed using the new online system will be automatically routed to the appropriate regional office for investigation. The online form will be identical to the paper version and will request the same information from whistleblowers to initiate an OSHA investigation.

OSHA has investigatory authority for the whistleblower provisions of 22 separate statutes, which cover employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, air and rail, nuclear power, pipeline, and environmental laws. Its investigatory authority includes violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, and the Clean Air Act. After OSHA completes its investigation, it issues findings, which may then be reviewed by the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, Administrative Review Board, and the federal Courts of Appeals.

The online filing system is consistent with a trend within the DOL to reduce the formality required to bring administrative whistleblower complaints. One concern for employers is whether the informal complaint process provides them with sufficient information to investigate the claim. Practitioners will also be interested in observing if OSHA’s online filing system increases the amount of whistleblower complaints that OSHA receives. As discussed in a previous Ethics/Whistleblower blog post, the number of whistleblower complaints processed by OSHA rose dramatically from 2011 to 2012, although the number of merit determinations actually decreased over the same time period.



 

The views expressed in this document are solely the views of the author and not Martindale-Hubbell. This document is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.
 

View More Library Documents By...

 
Author
 
Margaret Hutchins Campbell
Jesse C. Ferrantella
 
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Overview


 

Practice Area Resource Centers
Visit our Practice Area Resource Centers to view practice area specific content compiled from a variety of legal sources. Find related articles, podcasts, industry leader insights and much more. We currently offer the following Practice Areas:Litigation;Intellectual Property;Real Estate;Corporate Law;Criminal Law;Bankruptcy;Immigration;Business Law;Insurance;Taxation;Labor & Employment;Commercial Law;Medical Malpractice;Trusts & Estates;Securities;International Law ;Health Care;Environmental Law;Construction Law;Workers' Compensation