March 2023: New Whistleblower Intake Program Becomes Effective for OSHA-Administered Whistleblower Statutes

08 Mar


Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
On February 17, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs’ new whistleblower complaint intake pilot program (Directive 23-01 (CPL 02)) went into effect, governing complaints covered by OSHA-administered whistleblower statutes.

What are the details?
OSHA, which administers over two dozen whistleblower statutes, has seen a rising number of complaints filed in recent years. This pilot program aims to relieve the strain on OSHA’s investigative resources by allowing an investigator to administratively close a complaint without contacting the Complainant.

Under the program, OSHA will administratively close a complaint if it facially:

  1. Is not covered by an OSHA-administered whistleblower statute;
  2. Is untimely filed and equitable tolling does not appear to apply; or
  3. Only alleges safety or compliance issues but does not allege retaliation or other prohibited activity.

Upon closure, the Complainant will receive a letter notifying them of the closure and informing them that they may provide additional information to change the closure decision.

Notably, when OSHA administratively closes a complaint, it will preserve the filing date for timeliness.

The program is an expansion of a similar pilot program implemented by OSHA Region II between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021.  OSHA adopted improvements to the program, including adding more information to the closure letters about equitable tolling to assist Complainants in refiling with additional information where their complaint was closed for timeliness. The closure letter may also include referrals to other agencies; for example, if the Complainant alleged discrimination based on a protected category, the letter will provide a referral to the EEOC.

For more information, please see the links below:

OSHA Notice

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above to educate them on this new directive, which will help reduce complaints.

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