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OSHA Finalizes Protection for Food Safety Whistleblowers

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

(North American Meat Institute)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule that defines whistleblower protections for food company employees who disclose information about potential food safety problems. The final rule establishes procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and details processes for the government and employers to follow when investigating and responding to such complaints. The rule also explains the burdens of proof, remedies and statute of limitations. Under the rule, employees are protected when they provided or are about to provide to their employer, the federal government or the attorney general of a state information relating to any violation of, or any act or omission the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of, food safety rules and regulations. Protections also cover employees who testify or plan to testify about food safety violations, as well as employees who assist in investigations or other proceedings. The final rule requires employees to file retaliation complaints within 180 days of the alleged retaliatory activity.

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