The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a guidance for employers on how to manage their workplace anti-retaliation programs.
The agency said adoption of the guidelines is not mandatory, but adherence to what it calls best practices can help protect employers where such behavior towards their employees is now governed by enforcement of no fewer than 22 federal whistleblower laws.
OSHA says an effective anti-retaliation program includes five key elements:
- Management leadership, commitment, and accountability.
- A system for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns.
- A system for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation.
- Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers.
- Program oversight of the systems for reporting hazards, compliance concerns and retaliation.
OSHA also notes that there is some flexibility for employers to develop and modify their programs based on their size, workforce make-up and industry, but offers no specifics.
In addition to such obvious violations as threats and firing for reporting safety violations, the guidance cites specific examples of the types of “subtle” retaliation that employers should prohibit.
These include reassignment to a less desirable positions, reducing pay or hours, and isolating, ostracizing, mocking or falsely accusing employees of poor performance.
Calling the guidance “a solid roadmap to assist employers in complying with their legal obligations,” attorney Angela N. O’Rourke of the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, says, “all employers would be well served to take action to incorporate them into their programs.”
For a copy of the guidance, employers should visit: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3905.pdf