Region 9 News Release: 10-104-SAN (SF-48)
March 3, 2010
Contact: Deanne Amaden
US Department of Labor's OSHA orders e-Smart Technologies Inc. to pay whistleblower back wages and $600,000 in compensatory damages
Agency orders company to reinstate California worker
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered e-Smart Technologies Inc. to pay back wages with interest and approximately $600,000 in compensatory damages to a California worker who was discharged after raising concerns about misinformation contained in a draft public filing. OSHA also ordered the company to reinstate the whistleblower to his former position.
"It is vital that employees be able to raise fraud concerns to their employers without fear of retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This order reaffirms both the right of employees to raise concerns regarding violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules and the Labor Department's commitment to protecting that right."
The action resulted from a whistleblower investigation conducted by OSHA's regional office in San Francisco under the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The investigation substantiated the employee's complaint that his job duties were systematically removed and his paychecks were delayed and ultimately stopped after he questioned the accuracy of several statements made in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
In addition to requiring e-Smart Technologies to fairly compensate and rehire the whistleblower, OSHA's order instructs the company to provide a neutral reference, expunge his personnel file of any reference to his exercise of rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and post a notice to employees outlining whistleblower protections. E-Smart Technologies is a registered Nevada corporation with an office in New York. The company or complainant may file objections or request a hearing before the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 16 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws; trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health regulations; and consumer product safety laws. Under the provisions, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. Fact sheets and detailed information on employee whistleblower rights are available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's Note: The Labor Department does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
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