Thursday, November 3, 2011

OSHA Publishes Interim Final Rule Revising SOX Whistleblower Complaint Procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the U.S. Department of labor, is responsible for the investigation and enforcement of whistleblower complaints under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which is referred to as "SOX." OSHA announced recently that it will publish interim final rules that revise the regulations governing whistleblower complaints filed under SOX. Among other changes to the complaint filing process, the revised rules will allow employees to file complainants SOX complaints orally and in any language. OSHA is requesting public comment on the interim final rule.  The deadline for submitting comments on the rule is January 3, 2012

The whistleblower provisions of SOX make it unlawful for a publicly traded company (or its subsidiaries) to retaliate against an employee for reporting mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, violations of SEC rules or regulations, or violations of any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. 

According to a DOL news release regarding the interim rule, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said that "Fraudulent practices by publicly held corporations have contributed to the economic difficulties currently facing our nation." "The best way to prevent this from happening in the future is to ensure that workers feel free to blow the whistle on corrupt corporate practices without fear of retaliation, and OSHA is committed to protecting the rights of those workers to speak out."

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