OSHA Orders Technology Firm to Rehire Whistleblower, Pay Him $600K
OSHA has ordered e-Smart Technologies Inc. to pay back wages with interest and approximately $600,000 in compensatory damages to a California worker who was discharged after raising concerns about misinformation contained in a draft public filing. The agency also ordered the company to reinstate the whistleblower to his former position.
e-Smart makes biometric smart cards and other products designed for security and homeland defense. The Labor Department does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
"It is vital that employees be able to raise fraud concerns to their employers without fear of retaliation," said OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels. "This order reaffirms both the right of employees to raise concerns regarding violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules and the Labor Department's commitment to protecting that right."
The action resulted from a whistleblower investigation conducted by OSHA's regional office in San Francisco under the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The investigation substantiated the employee's complaint that his job duties were systematically removed and his paychecks were delayed and ultimately stopped after he questioned the accuracy of several statements made in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
In addition to requiring e-Smart to fairly compensate and rehire the whistleblower, OSHA's order instructs the company to provide a neutral reference, expunge his personnel file of any reference to his exercise of rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and post a notice to employees outlining whistleblower protections. e-Smart Technologies is a registered Nevada corporation with an office in New York. The company or complainant may file objections or request a hearing before DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 16 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws; trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health regulations; and consumer product safety laws. Under the provisions, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. Fact sheets and detailed information on employee whistleblower rights are available online at www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.