The U.S. Department of Labor is launching a new pilot process in its Western region. The “Expedited Case Processing Pilot” allows a complainant covered by certain statutes to ask the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to cease its investigation and issue findings for the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges to consider.

The case meets certain criteria before it can be expedited. Administrative law judges may order the same remedies as OSHA, including back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages where authorized, attorneys’ fees and reinstatement.

The department acknowledges that OSHA’s investigation process can take time, and complainants may be able to receive a determination more quickly without losing their rights to a hearing by electing to expedite OSHA’s processing of their claims.

“The ultimate goal is to bring about quicker resolution for whistleblowers and their employers regarding claims of retaliation for reporting safety and other concerns on the job,” said Barbara Goto, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco.

The pilot became effective Aug. 1, in the agency’s San Francisco region, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and the islands of American Samoa, CNMI and Guam.

As DWM reported in its June-July issue, perceived problems within the program have led to a whistleblower lawsuit recently being filed against OSHA by one of its former employees.

According to a report from investigative news organization Fair Warning, Darrell Whitman claims he lost his job as an investigator with the San Francisco regional office of OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program because he complained to agency officials – including Labor Secretary Thomas Perez — that many legitimate whistleblower cases weren’t being prosecuted.

 

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  1. […] law judges can order the same recompenses as OSHA, they can order back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, […]

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