OSHA orders MGM Resorts to reinstate whistleblower immediately and pay
more than $325,000 in damages
LAS VEGAS – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered MGM Resorts International to reinstate a whistleblower immediately and pay damages of approximately $325,000 for violations under the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The former employee of the Signature Condominiums LLC, doing business as The Signature at MGM Grand, a consolidated subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, was terminated in retaliation for disclosing that co-workers were allegedly violating Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations by engaging in "forecasting" as well as for reporting pressure from others to engage in forecasting. Forecasting is the practice of providing information to a potential buyer as to the expected revenue and occupancy rates of condominiums. Under SEC rules, if a condominium unit is offered for sale with an emphasis on forecasting the economic benefits to the buyer from the rental of the unit by the seller, it is deemed a "security," and can only be offered by someone who is a security broker licensed to offer such a security. In this case, the complainant's co-workers were not licensed security brokers. OSHA conducted its investigation under the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
"This employee tried to ensure the employer was following the law and paid a hefty price for speaking up," said Ken Atha, OSHA's regional administrator in San Francisco. "This order reaffirms both the right of employees to report what they reasonably believe are violations of SEC rules and the department's pledge to protect that right."
In addition to reinstatement and monetary compensation, OSHA ordered MGM to post a notice informing all employees of Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower protections, asked that the employer expunge the employee's personnel records of any references to the unlawful termination and provide the employee a neutral job reference. MGM Resorts International is headquartered in Delaware and owns and operates many hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, including the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Bellagio and New York-New York. Either party to the case can file an appeal with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such an appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor vehicle, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. 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, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working 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 U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 262-693-7828 or TTY 262-693-7755.