What is the “SOX Act?”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued whistle-blower claims under Section 806 of the Corporate Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, which is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the “SOX Act.” This means that there are new, definitive procedures for handling whistle-blower complaints, under the SOX Act.

These procedures include providing protection to employees who may have assisted in an investigation of their company, where the employee has reason to believe that a violation of any regulation set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission was committed. These violations can include, but not be limited to: financial, security or shareholder fraud.

In addition to providing protection to employees who may have given information about their company, in the event of an investigation, they also have 180 days to file a complaint of retaliation. This means that if the employee in question feels as if their company has retaliated in response to their involvement with the investigation, they can file a complaint against the company.

In the event of a filed complaint, the OSHA will investigate the nature of the complaint. The complaint will be thrown out unless it can be proved that the retaliation was, in fact, in response to the employee’s protected activity.

Additionally, an investigation of the complaint will not take place if the company can prove that the action against the employee would have happened regardless of their prior involvement in any protected activities.

Procedures of objecting to a preliminary OSHA order, as well as seeking the review of this order by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), have been defined by the SOX Act. While employers in Wisconsin should not see immediate changes in dealing with these types of claims, they should still learn about the new procedures set by the SOX whistle-blower provisions.

If you are an employee and feel as if you are suffering from retaliation due to your protected involvement in the investigation of your company, it may be beneficial to contact an attorney to learn about your legal options. 

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