A look at the OSHA’s final whistle-blower rules under SOX

Wisconsin employees may be interested in some information about a new final whistle-blower rule passed by the federal government. This final rule has been years in the making, but continues the policies in effect for a while.

Passed in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create rules regarding whistle-blowers at public companies. Three years ago, OSHA created an interim rule that protects employees from retaliation by their company or affiliates if they expose securities or financial fraud by the company. If that employee gives information about these different types of fraud and there is some kind of retaliation, the employee has 180 days to file a complaint under the law.

Now, a final rule, which implements the above interim rules, has been passed. The final rule also mandates that OSHA investigate any retaliation complaints that are filed under this law. OSHA will dismiss any complaint that does not meet certain requirements that show the retaliation was connected to their whistle-blowing activity. OSHA will then issue a preliminary order, to which the parties may object according to procedures contained in the final rule. Many of these provisions in the final rule are similar or the same as those that were contained in the interim rule from three years ago, but the finalization shows that employees may be able to rely on these procedures in the near future.

Understanding an employee’s options after they face retaliation from their employer can be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. The attorney may be able to explain the whistle-blower laws, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the False Claims Act, as they apply to a particular case. The attorney might also be helpful in drafting and filing a whistle-blower complaint.

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