What to Know About CAARA and AMLA, & OSHA Whistleblower Protection

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will now oversee worker retaliation complaints filed under two new statutes: the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act (CAARA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). 

Under CAARA, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblower’s accusations of retaliation against them for reporting criminal antitrust violations to their superiors or to the federal government. Or for showing cause, testifying, participating, or assisting an investigation or proceeding related to antitrust law violations. 

 

Related Article: National Emphasis Program to Protect High-Risk Workers from COVID-19

 

In AMLA cases, OSHA will investigate complaints of retaliation against whistleblowers who reported money laundering related violations to their superior or the federal government — as well as showing cause or assisting in an investigation or proceeding related to a violation of anti-money laundering laws.

In addition to enforcing whistleblower protection for workers regarding federal health and safety, OSHA has also been made responsible for overseeing the enforcement of 25 different whistleblower statutes over the years. Only about 62 percent of OSHA’s whistleblower claims deal with safety and health violations. 

OSHA handles complaints of retaliation across the board: reporting violations of securities and tax laws as well as consumer product, food, nuclear industry, motor carrier, pipeline and maritime safety, and health insurance reform laws.

 

How CAARA and AMLA Work

 

OSHA already has well-established complaint reporting and investigative mechanisms.

Employees who believe they were discharged or discriminated against due to reporting a violation of either law can file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor within 90 days after a violation allegedly occurred. 

OSHA then investigates the complaint, which provides employers an opportunity to provide a written response and present witness statements. If there is reasonable cause to believe that CAARA or AMLA has been violated, the findings will be accompanied by a preliminary order providing relief to the whistleblower. 

Both the employee and employer will have 30 days after they are notified of the findings to file an objective and request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges. If the employer demonstrates with clear and convincing evidence that the employer would have taken the same unfavorable action towards the employee with the absence of the protected activity, DOL cannot provide relief for the employee. 

 

What This Means for Employers 

 

Now that there is a mechanism in place for whistleblower provisions under CAARA and the AMLA, complaints will likely form under these statutes.

Employers should advise members of management and human resources, including investigators, to be aware of complaints that could involve CAARA and the AMLA. 

These new workplace retaliation provisions will provide additional opportunities for organizations to review and strengthen their anti-retaliation policies. Employers should communicate their commitment to ethical conduct and non-retaliation to their employees. 

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