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OSHA Lowers Investigative Standard for Merit Findings in Whistleblower Complaints

Published:  June 2, 2015

As many employers probably know, the number of retaliation complaints filed under OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program has significantly increased in recent years. In April 2015, OSHA issued a memorandum clarifying the standard of review that investigators must apply to such complaints that will likely result in a significant increase in the number of Merit Findings as well. The memorandum underscores that the standard at this stage of the process is lower than the burden of proof a complainant has to meet at a formal hearing, and was prompted by OSHA’s conclusion that too many cases were being dismissed early on. To avoid being swept up in this new tide of administrative litigation, employers should ensure that supervisors and managers are well trained on the principles of retaliation and how to properly document conduct warranting disciplinary action.

If you have any questions regarding the OSHA whistleblower complaint process, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.