OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
National News Release
August 23, 2004
Contact: Al Belsky
Phone: (202) 693-1999
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will publish in tomorrow's Federal Register a final rule establishing procedures for the handling of whistleblower complaints under the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, also known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, one of 14 laws with whistleblower protections administered by OSHA.
The law was enacted July 30, 2002, to protect employees in publicly traded companies and their contractors, subcontractors or agents from retaliation for providing information that an employee believes is a violation of a Securities and Exchange Commission rule or other federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. OSHA has received a total of 307 employee complaints filed under the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act since its inception.
"Whistleblower protection is an important part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which this Administration has promoted to ensure corporate responsibility, enhance public disclosure and improve the quality and transparency of financial reporting and auditing," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The whistleblower protection provision of Sarbanes-Oxley will protect courageous workers who speak out against corporate abuse and fraud."
The rule establishes procedures for the expeditious handling of discrimination complaints made by employees or by persons acting on their behalf. Included in the rule are procedures for submitting complaints under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, investigations and issuing findings and preliminary orders. A major part of the rule details litigation procedures and how one can object to the findings and request a hearing. The final section of the rule discusses miscellaneous provisions including withdrawals of complaints and settlements and judicial review and judicial enforcement.
"Providing consistent and fair procedures is critical to the proper implementation of the whistleblower protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act," added OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "With our experience in administering whistleblower regulations, this procedure will assure complaintants are afforded proper protections."
OSHA first solicited comments on the regulation when it published an interim final rule during May 2003. Those comments are discussed in the preamble of the final rule.
OSHA also published a fact sheet last year describing whistleblower protections for workers employed by publicly traded companies or their contractors, subcontractors or agents. The fact sheet details a worker's rights as a whistleblower as well as instructions on how to file complaints.
OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7773 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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