OSHA fires investigator who stood up for whistleblowers

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In February, an investigator with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program publicly disclosed through NBC Bay Area News that managers were pressuring investigators to dismiss whistleblower complaints without adequate review. The investigator, Darrell Whitman, took his concerns to senior agency officials. This week, Bay Area News reported that Whitman has been fired.

Firing whistleblowers is a common response by federal agencies. But, this agency was tasked with protecting whistleblowers.

Whitman, who has filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, acknowledges what many whistleblowers and their lawyers have suspected for years, “OSHA is hostile to whistleblowers.”

The National Law Review reported in January that OSHA has investigated more than 3,000 cases in Fiscal Year 2014–most of them  “safety-related, including 1,729 (57%) filed under the OSH Act’s anti-retaliation clause.”

A total of 25% were settled or went before an administrative or federal judge. Of these, just 64 (2%) resulted in a “merit” decision, a designation that means OSHA referred the complaint to a judge after the parties could not come to terms. (NLR)

One has to wonder what the Whistleblower Protection Program’s Advisory Committee has to say about it all.

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