Employers can expect more whistle-blower cases to be heard as unfair labor practices charges now that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and OSHA have agreed to cooperate when employees file late safety-related complaints.
On May 21, the NLRB’s general counsel announced a program in which OSHA investigators will “notify all complainants who file an untimely whistle-blower charge of their right to file a charge with the NLRB.”
The memorandum outlining the new programs noted that many OSHA whistle-blower charges “may also raise claims under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA); for example, instances of employer retaliation for group complaints concerning unsafe working conditions.”
The issue is timing. The OSHA law imposes a 30-day statute of limitations for filing many whistle-blower claims. The NLRA has a six-month statute of limitations.
Advice: Don’t retaliate against employees who blow the whistle on alleged safety violations. If you get any inkling of allegations that whistle-blowers experienced reprisals, consult your attorney.