Critics Call OSHA Whistleblower Initiative a ‘Shaming Program’

Business leaders across a wide range of industries are criticizing a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program that “shames” employers who have allegedly violated their workers’ whistleblower rights.

The Whistleblower-Severe Violator Enforcement Program (W-SVEP) would target businesses and organizations that egregiously impede on their employees’ ability to file whistleblower complaints, especially when it comes to health and workplace safety standards. The program officially took effect May 27 in OSHA Region 7, which includes Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Critics of the program content that it violates companies’ rights to due process and may unfairly destroy their reputations in the eyes of the public.

How the program works

OSHA officials will look at if a business has been involved in whistleblower claims worthy of litigation, or situations in which the federal agency has handed down a merit finding related to a fatality, an egregious citation or a rate-based incentive system for job-related illnesses and injuries.

If OSHA finds that the employer has met one of the program’s criteria, the agency will place it on the W-SVEP log, with the company able to petition for removal three years later. To be removed, OSHA will need to approve the action after a thorough review of the company’s processes and procedures to ensure adequate change have been made.

The program features a process for OSHA to make public an employer’s inclusion on the W-SVEP log, including press releases and documentation provided to the Department of Labor, labor union officials and certain federal agencies. Critics say that OSHA is going to far with these efforts, demonstrating a commitment to completely ruining the reputations of those businesses placed in the log.

If you would like to learn more about the W-SVEP program and how it could potentially impact your business or organization, consult a knowledgeable Dallas attorney with Whistleblower Law for Managers today.