US Department of Labor finds nutritional beverage company, former CEO in
violation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower protection provisions
Bond Laboratories ordered to re-hire employee, pay approximately $500,000
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found Bond Laboratories Inc. and former CEO Scott Landow in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for improperly firing an employee. The company and Landow have been ordered to re-hire the employee and pay approximately $500,000 in back wages, interest and compensatory damages. The findings follow an investigation by OSHA's San Francisco Regional Office, which was initiated after receiving a complaint from the employee.
Landow and Bond Laboratories, formerly based in Solana Beach, allegedly terminated the complainant, an officer, for objecting to the manipulation of sales figures that misrepresented the company's value to potential investors. OSHA determined that the complainant repeatedly objected to this practice between March and October 2008, and that the objections contributed to the decision to terminate the complainant.
"This corporate officer tried to do the right thing when asked to break the law," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "It is essential that America's workers do not have to fear retaliation when reporting wrongdoing. The Labor Department will continue to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by holding corporations, and when appropriate, CEOs, accountable."
The complainant, Bond Laboratories and Landow can appeal the monetary damages to the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receiving the findings. Bond Laboratories, now based in Omaha, Neb., manufactures nutritional supplement beverages and related products for public consumption.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad and maritime laws. Today's action is covered under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's Title VIII, known as the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002.
Under these laws enacted by Congress, 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 they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.