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Board Using OSHA To Drum Up Business

The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) recently released a Memorandum which could greatly increase the number of unfair labor practice charges filed against employers.  The Memorandum explains the Board has “entered into a program” with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), the federal agency tasked with enforcement of health and safety legislation.  Essentially, the unlikely pair have banded together to help employees who file untimely whistleblower complaints under OSHA.

Under OSHA, employees may file whistleblower complaints within 30 days of the violation.  Where these complaints are untimely, OSHA has now agreed to notify all complainants of their right to file a charge with the Board, which has a six month statute of limitations.  (In almost all cases, a whistleblower safety complaint will be protected concerted activity covered by the National Labor Relations Act even where there is no union involved with the employer!)  OSHA agents will have talking points regarding the Board and contact information for the local Board office.  Further, OSHA will include this information in their letters closing untimely whistleblower charges.  The Board released a draft OSHA letter which states in part:

I regret that OSHA is unable to assist you further in this matter. However, OSHA recommends that you contact the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as soon as possible to inquire about filing a charge alleging unfair labor practices. The NLRB is responsible for enforcing employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employees are protected under the NLRA to act together to try to improve working conditions, including safety and health conditions, even if the employees aren’t in a union. The NLRB time limit to file a charge is 6 months from the unfair labor practice. You may reach the NLRB at www.nlrb.gov/who-we-are/regional-offices. 1-844-762-6572. You may also locate your nearest NLRB Field Office . . .

This language signifies OSHA is encouraging employees to contact the Board, without knowing one detail about their case.  This agreement is just the latest example of federal agencies (and state agencies) working together to cross sell government services to employees.  The real question is which agency will be next to join this effort?

Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.