On September 9, 2016, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) released some new guidelines for employers with a whistleblowing employee.
OSHA-reviewed settlements between employees and employers revealed a disturbing trend: companies would use these documents to put red tape in place which prevented employees from taking independent legal action.
- Vague wording that deterred would-be whistleblowing attempts
- Implications that an employee must consult the employer before talking to a government agency
- Requirements that an employee waive their right to financial remuneration for whistleblowing
- Stipulations that prevented employees from acting independently to participate in an investigation
Employers usually want to put an end to this sort of litigation before it even begins without their knowledge. So, they make their employees sign forms that intimidate and confuse them into thinking it would be illegal to open a whistleblower case.
OSHA recognized this pattern of behavior was going on and took action by putting new provisions in place.
For example, OSHA will now no longer approve of settlements that require employees to sign a disclaimer that states they had no knowledge of the employer violating the law. The agency will also reject agreements with wording that implies employees do not have the freedom to discuss settlements with government agencies.
If a settlement agreement doesn’t look right to OSHA, the employer will be asked to remove the vague or confusing wording or to include OSHA-approved language.
Do you suspect you could be the first to file for a whistleblower case? Don’t go through process alone. Contact Harman Law LLC for support. We offer no-obligation free initial consultations. Call us today at (404) 554-0777.
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