New OSHA Whistleblower Protection Rules and a $200,000 Judgment in a Retaliation Lawsuit

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has been very busy this week issuing final rules regarding the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower protections as well as handing down a judgment requiring a bank to pay over $200,000 to a terminated whistleblower. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the whistleblower protections of the Consumer Financial Protection Act were expanded to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and protect whistleblowers who report violations of financial consumer protection laws.  If anyone wishes to report violations of financial laws (and protections) they must first go to the Secretary of the Department of Labor and then OSHA investigates.  One of the clarified areas in the new final rules establishes a time limit of 180 days to file a complaint (orally or in writing) from the date the alleged violation (rule violation or retaliation) took place.  See the OSHA web site for more information on their Whistleblower Protection Program.

A judgment earlier this week showed how a whistleblower protection program works.  Specifically, OSHA ordered JP Morgan Chase Bank to pay a whistleblower $200,000 and re-hire him after his position was eliminated and he was fired after pointing out several irregularities in transactions (such as loan recording and reporting to the government).  The $200,000 total was $152,000 for back wages and $50,000 in compensatory damages, and the bank was ordered to rehire the whistleblower whose name remained anonymous to protect his privacy.

After bringing up the financial under-reporting and being fired, the loan manager filed his complaint under OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program (“WPP”).  The WPP then investigated and found that there was reasonable cause that his protected activity played a role in his termination.  In addition, the Bank must ensure that the whistleblower’s personnel file does not show a record of his complaint and they must post a notice that their employees have whistleblower rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Act without fear of retaliation.  As a result, JP Morgan Chase Bank must pay the fine and make the notices, or else appeal the case to the Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges.   See other California related Whistleblower case examples in our dedicated blog page which is frequently updated by our specialized Los Angeles based attorneys.

If you witness any potential false claims (i.e. lack of proper reporting to the government, requests for reimbursement to the government, not actually rendering work when reimbursement is received, or receiving and knowingly retaining an overpayment) by your company, or you are retaliated against for voicing your concern about potential wrongdoing, immediate action is crucial.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.