OSHA is seeking public comment on interim final rules revising whistleblower complaint regulations that were published in the Nov. 3 Federal Register. The changes would affect the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which protects employees of publicly traded companies from retaliation for reporting violations of federal law like mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, or violations of SEC rules or regulations.
"Fraudulent practices by publicly held corporations have contributed to the economic difficulties currently facing our nation," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "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."
The whistleblower protection provisions of SOX were amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to clarify that subsidiaries of publicly traded companies are covered employers under the statute, and to add nationally recognized statistical rating organizations as covered employers. The 2010 amendments to SOX also extended the statute of limitations for filing a complaint from 90 to 180 days, among other changes. The new interim final rules implement these changes and aim to improve OSHA's procedures for handling complaints under SOX.
Among the changes to improve the complaint filing process, the revised rules will allow SOX complainants to file complaints orally and in any language, and enhance the sharing of information between parties throughout the investigation.
The interim final rule can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=22220.
Comments, which must be received by Jan. 3, 2012, may be submitted electronically via the federal e-rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or by mail or fax. Faxed submissions, including attachments, must not exceed 10 pages and should be sent to the OSHA Docket Office at 202-693-1648. Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2011-0126, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.