OSHA recently announced that there were a record number of whistleblower complaints concerning employer retaliation for reporting safety issues filed in fiscal 2012 under OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. The number of whistleblower cases reached 2,787, a 5% increase over 2011’s whistleblower case total of 2,648. Of those whistleblower cases, according to OSHA, 20% were withdrawn and 58% were dismissed by OSHA.
In order to encourage whistleblower cases, OSHA is reviewing additional methods for collecting worker complaints of employer retaliation under whistleblower statutes. For example, OSHA is proposing to add a new forum to its website that workers can either submit directly through the internet or by downloading, filling out, and sending to OSHA by either fax, mail, or hand delivery. The proposal to update and broaden complaint submission in connection with alleged employer retaliation cases is another step in OSHA’s effort to improve whistleblower enforcement. Employers should be aware that OSHA is taking efforts to increase employee awareness of its whistleblower program and to make it easier for employees to submit allegations of employer retaliation.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.