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Vedder Thinking | Articles The NLRB Is Teaming Up with OSHA on Retaliation Allegations

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On May 21, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board released operations-management memo OM 14-60, explaining that the NLRB has entered into a referral agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the handling of whistleblower complaints. The OSH Act establishes a 30-day statute of limitations for whistleblower claims under Section 11(c). OSHA estimates that each year between three hundred and six hundred complainants seeking to assert retaliation claims are unable to do so due to the 30-day statute of limitations. Some situations, such as retaliation for group complaints concerning unsafe working conditions, may also implicate claims under the National Labor Relations Act, which carries a six-month statute of limitations. To address these situations, OSHA will now notify complainants who file an untimely whistleblower charge of their rights to file a charge with the NLRB. OSHA personnel will be provided with talking points describing the NLRB and how a complainant can contact the Agency. A separate toll-free number for use by those referred by OSHA has also been established. The cooperation between these two Agencies will likely result in an increase in whistleblower claims. Consequently, employers should be mindful of how complaints regarding workplace safety are addressed and handled, particularly when they arise from concerted employee activities, such as group complaints.

Please contact Aaron R. Gelb at +1 (312) 609 7844 or the Vedder Price attorney with whom you have worked if you have any questions about retaliation allegations or any other issues related to this article.

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Aaron R. Gelb

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