News, Articles & Updates

SEC TAKES ACTION TO PROTECT WHISTLEBLOWERS

On August 10 and August 16, 2016, the SEC brought two separate enforcement actions against companies for stifling whistleblowers through the confidentiality provisions in their severance agreements. The two companies, BlueLinx and Health Net, Inc. both paid significant civil monetary penalties to settle the charges. They also agreed to contact former employees who entered into severance agreements after August 12, 2011 to notify them of the order that the companies would not prevent them from contacting nor providing information to the Commission staff without notice to the companies and that they may accept a whistleblower award from the Commission.

Companies should:

Review their agreements and practices to ascertain that they do not prevent or restrict the ability of their employees to report possible securities or other federal law violations to the SEC or other government agencies and to collect whistleblower awards.

Offending Provisions Companies Should Avoid:

  • Do not require departing employees to notify the company’s legal department prior to disclosing any financial or business information to third parties without expressly exempting the Commission from the scope of this restriction
  • Do not require departing employees to forgo monetary recovery in connection with providing information to the Commission.

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

NEW OSHA INJURY REPORTING RULES

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently issued a new final rule revising its Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses policy. The new rule now requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness reports. The new rule will also prohibit employers from discouraging or retaliating against employees from making these reports. OSHA is broadly interpreting the definition of “discourage” to ensure that employees are not being deterred from making these reports.

Electronic Reporting Provisions

Starting July 1, 2017, certain employers will be required to electronically submit the injury and illness data that they are currently required to record.

Anti-Retaliation Provisions
Starting November 1, 2016 OSHA will begin enforcing the new anti-retaliation provisions. Under these new rules, employers must:

  • Inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without retaliation
  • Have a reasonable reporting procedure that does not discourage employees from reporting their illnesses and injuries
  • Allow employees and their representatives access to their injury and illness records

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.