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OSHA Online Retaliation Complaint Form is Live and Freely Available

Labor & Employment Law Update William A. Walden

In March 2013, OSHA closed the window for public comments on its proposed online form that would allow employees to submit retaliation complaints directly to OSHA over the Internet, 24 hours a day. OSHA currently enforces the whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections of 22 statutes, including the Affordable Care Act and Sarbanes-Oxley.

OSHA recently released a statement indicating it was launching the online form (which can be viewed by clicking here). Much like OSHA’s in-person or written complaint portals, the online form solicits information about the complainant and the employer, inviting the complainant to describe his or her protected activity and the employer’s allegedly retaliatory or discriminatory response. The form even asks the complainant to opine on how management learned of the protected activity.

The online form demonstrates OSHA’s increasing attentiveness to whistleblower statutes and retaliation complaints. It also reflects a trend, embodied in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approach to whistleblower complaints, to make reporting easier for potential complainants.

While the online portal’s accessibility might trouble some employers, it should not cause them to retreat from their existing efforts to prevent or correct retaliation. Employers should still communicate to employees that they will respond swiftly and investigate thoroughly any internal allegations of retaliation. Employers should likewise inform management about what constitutes retaliation. Employers may want to explain that the response to allegedly retaliatory conduct can be immediate, as employees can now file an OSHA retaliation complaint on a wifi-ready mobile device.

For more information on the new OSHA online form or whistleblower complaints in general, contact William Walden at (312) 715-5111 / [email protected] or your Quarles & Brady attorney.  

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