According to a recent Department of Labor announcement, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with the oversight of worker retaliation complaints filed under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (CAARA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). To learn more, we turned to “The Department of Labor Establishes New Whistleblower Protocols,” written by Steve Biddle and Melissa Shingles and found on jdsurpa.com.
The article states that CAARA and AMLA became law on December 23, 2020 and January 1, 2021, respectively. CAARA protects whistleblowers who report criminal antitrust violations to their employer or the federal government from employer retaliation. Similarly, ALMA protects those who report money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations to their employer or the federal government. Both acts also prohibit employer retaliation against employees who participate in federal investigations and proceedings. According to the article, OSHA now monitors the enforcement of whistleblower provisions from 25 statutes, not all of which are related to occupational safety and health.
The article also details how OSHA will investigate whistleblower complaints under the two acts. The Department of Labor announced that OSHA will follow the procedures laid out in AIR21, which was originally passed to protect whistleblowers who report air carrier safety violations. In accordance with AIR21 protocol, employees who claim they were retaliated against for taking actions protected by CAARA or AMLA will have 90 days from the act of retaliation to report the incident to the secretary of labor, which will initiate an investigation. In order to receive relief, alleged victims of retaliation must demonstrate that their employer acted against them because they took actions protected by CAARA or AMLA. For example, if an employee was already going to be fired before whistleblowing or participating in a federal investigation, they are not entitled to relief under CAARA nor AMLA. Once the secretary of labor announces the results of the investigation, the complainant and respondent have 30 days to object or request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
In the end, the writers of the aforementioned article urge organizations to “review and strengthen their anti-retaliation policies and communicate to all employees their commitment to ethical conduct and non-retaliation.” After all, CAARA and AMLA are just two examples of numerous statutes that protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Consider how your organization can ensure potential issues are nipped early, before problems grow to be significant, including your use of Red Flag Reporting’s employee hotline service.