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Final rule released on whistleblower procedures

OSHA has published 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 two years ago 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.

“The whistleblower protection provision of Sarbanes-Oxley will protect courageous workers who speak out against corporate abuse and fraud,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.

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.

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