August 17, 2016

2 Min Read
OSHA Unveils New Pilot Whistleblower Review Process
Image courtesy of the New York State Department of Labor

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the introduction of a new pilot program Tuesday that aims to help the agency speed up the review process for whistleblower complaints.

The “Expedited Case Processing Pilot” permits a complainant that is covered by certain statutes to request that the agency halt an investigation and issue findings to OSHA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges for consideration.

“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,” Barbara Goto, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco, said in an agency statement.

If the case meets certain criteria, administrative law judges may issue the same penalties as the agency, like back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and more. As of Aug. 1, the pilot is now active in OSHA’s San Francisco region, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the American Samoa islands, CNMI, and Guam.

Under the pilot process, OSHA said, the case is gauged for the following criteria:

  • The claim is filed under a statute that allows for de novo review by an administrative law judge.

  • Depending on the statute, 30 or 60 days have passed from the date the complainant first filed the claim with OSHA.

  • Federal investigators have evaluated the complaint and the complainant’s interview to determine if the basic elements of a retaliation claim exist.

  • Both the complainant and the respondent have had the opportunity to submit written responses, meet with an OSHA investigator, and present statements from witnesses.

  • The complainant has received a copy of the respondent’s submissions and had an opportunity to respond.

After looking at the case, OSHA officials will either dismiss the claim and inform the complainant of their right to take the case before an administrative judge, deny the request, or issue merit findings.

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