Last week OSHA announced the release of its “Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliations Programs.”  The publication is “intended to assist employers in creating workplaces that are free of retaliation … This document is advisory in nature and informational in content.  It is not mandatory for employers, and does not interpret or create legal obligations.”  Another caveat is that “This guidance is not intended to advise employees about their rights or protections under any whistleblower statute enforced by OSHA or any other government agency.”

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 federal statutes protecting employees against retaliation for raising health, safety, and potential violation concerns.  The recommendations are offered as a framework for employers to establish an anti-retaliation program.

The “Five Key Elements to an Effective Anti-Retaliation Program” are listed as:

  1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
  2. System for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns
  3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
  4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
  5. Program oversight

Each of the five elements is addressed.  Retaliation is explained and examples are given which range from firing an employee, to reassigning an employee to a less desirable position, or even ostracizing an employee.  Steps are given on how to implement an anti-retaliation program, including the employer’s commitment and involvement from the CEO on down to the employee.  The full text of the Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs can be read here.

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Photo of Tressi L. Cordaro Tressi L. Cordaro

Tressi L. Cordaro is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is co-leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group. She advises and represents employers on occupational safety and health matters before federal and state…

Tressi L. Cordaro is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is co-leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group. She advises and represents employers on occupational safety and health matters before federal and state OSHA enforcement agencies.

Ms. Cordaro has advised employers faced with willful and serious citations as the result of catastrophic events and fatalities, including citations involving multi-million dollar penalties. Ms. Cordaro’s approach to representing an employer cited by OSHA is to seek an efficient resolution of contested citations, reserving litigation as the option if the client’s business objectives cannot otherwise be achieved. As a result, she has secured OSHA withdrawals of citations without the need for litigation.

Ms. Cordaro’s unique experience with government agencies involved in OSHA enforcement enables her to provide employers with especially insightful guidance as to how regulators view OSHA compliance obligations, and evaluate contested cases.

Ms. Cordaro served as the Presidentially-appointed Legal Counsel and Special Advisor to the past Chairman and Commissioner Horace A. Thompson, III at the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC) in Washington, DC, the agency that adjudicates contested federal OSHA citations. As the Commissioner’s chief counsel, Ms. Cordaro analyzed all cases presented to the OSHRC and advocated the Commissioner’s position during decisional meetings.

In addition, Ms. Cordaro worked at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration developing OSHA standards, regulations and enforcement and compliance policies, with emphasis on the construction industry. She has in-depth experience on technical issues including, in particular, issues related to cranes and derricks in construction.