New OSHA Directive to Help Resolve Whistleblower Complaints Early

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a number of new procedures and policies August 19, outlining how a new process will be established to resolve whistleblower disputes more efficiently. The goal is to get whistleblower complaints resolved early on and to spend less time in court with each action.

This process is being established in conjunction with regional Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs as part of the overall OSHA effort to enforce whistleblower statutes. Current ADR programs provide whistleblowers with opportunities to negotiate potential settlements with the help of a confidential third-party representative from OSHA who has a significant amount of expertise in whistleblower cases.

An improved method for handling claims

The new directives are expected to be a valuable, worthwhile alternative to the otherwise lengthy and expensive process of litigation and investigation related to whistleblower claims. Complainants and respondents will have the opportunity to reach voluntary resolutions of their disputes using methods other than the standard process.

OSHA piloted the new ADR program between October 2012 and September 2013 in two of its 10 regions. Agency officials were pleased with the results of the pilot, which proved that early resolution processes can be quite successful for helping parties come to voluntary, mutual resolutions in whistleblower cases. The tests of the program also demonstrated having staff members specifically dedicated to coordinating and facilitating negotiations during settlements makes for more effective and efficient services. Respondents and complainants alike had good things to say about this process.

OSHA is also ending several deadline requirements in whistleblower complaints, but still encourages all employers and complainants to work efficiently to reach settlements.

To learn more about these new directives and how they will affect whistleblower claims across the country, speak with a knowledgeable Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers today.