The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) will now investigate workers’ complaints of retaliation for reporting antitrust and money laundering-related violations under new whistleblower statutes.
On February 19, 2021, the Department of Labor announced that OSHA would oversee whistleblower claims alleging retaliation under two laws – the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblowers’ retaliation complaints for reporting money laundering-related violations to their superiors or the federal government; or for showing cause, testifying or participating in, or otherwise assisting an investigation or proceeding related to a violation of anti-money laundering laws. The amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act has the potential to create a wave of litigation and government settlements, similar to what was seen in the wake of the creation of the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program. For more information on the significance of the amendments, see our Money Laundering Watch blog article – AMLA Adds Robust New Whistleblower Provisions for Anti-Money Laundering Violations (available here).
Under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblowers’ complaints of retaliation for reporting criminal antitrust violations to their superiors or the federal government; or for showing cause, testifying or participating in, or otherwise assisting an investigation or proceeding related to antitrust law violations.
Whistleblower protection is typically not limited to just those who report actual violations. Rather, DOL and court precedent extends protection to whistleblowers’ reasonable but mistaken beliefs that the conduct reported violated relevant law. To take advantage of such protection, complainants must show that their beliefs that the conduct they reported violated a law were “objectively reasonable.”
Until OSHA issues interim final rules governing the new investigations, it will process whistleblower complaints related to these statutes using procedures under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century.