Whistleblower protection claims are one of the legal areas where safety, health, and human resources professionals can be placed into a position of working in a coordinated manner, or they may take independent action that can come into conflict internally and have significant consequences for a company. In addition to the standard relief that arises from normal “wrongful discharge” or “discrimination” legal actions, whistleblower claims arising under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) or the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act of 1977, as amended (Mine Act) will bring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) into the mix. OSHA and MSHA conduct an intense investigation of the complainant’s claim, and in some cases, issue citations or civil penalties in line with their findings. Moreover, myriad environmental DOT and Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections are also enforced by OSHA and can trigger safety and health inspections based on hazards in plain view or complaints raised in the course of an unrelated whistleblower investigation.
In this practical webinar, you will receive a detail overview of the rights of employees under the OSH Act, Mine Act, and other whistleblower statutes whose causes of action are investigated and prosecuted by OSHA/MSHA. You will also navigate the interrelationship of these claims with other protections, under workers’ compensation laws, and federal statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among other things, you will define what constitutes “adverse action,” “protected activity,” and the procedural distinctions among these various federal laws. You will also address how OSHA’s new e-Recordkeeping rule expands whistleblower protections and covers issues including:
- Safety incentive programs
- Worker discipline
- Drug testing of injured workers
Finally, you will review recommendations for handling these complaints from the employer’s perspective and the expansion of these protections in pending congressional legislation.
Upon course completion, you will be able to:
- Outline the distinction between whistleblower protections under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act and the 2016 expansion under 29 CFR Part 1904, which can lead to $132,598 penalties per affected worker
- Document legitimate business reasons for adverse actions against workers, particularly those who have previous histories of safety-related protected activity
- Determine how whistleblower protections under Section 105(c) of the Mine Act can apply to contractors and lead to personal liability for supervisors of up to $72,000
- Determine which actions constitute “protected activity” and when terminated workers can be granted temporary reinstatement during the pending whistleblower litigation
- Identify what statutory changes may be forthcoming and the status of litigation challenging OSHA’s expanded whistleblower protections