On October 2, 2012 OSHA announced an alternative dispute resolution pilot program for complaints filed with OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. The program, which will have two methods of ADR: early resolution and mediation, will be offered in the Chicago and San Francisco Regional Offices. Participation in the program will be voluntary.
"OSHA is committed to fair, effective and timely enforcement of the whistleblower laws delegated to us by Congress," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels in a press release announcing the program. "Alternative dispute resolution can provide immediate relief and finality to both parties."
While this pilot program appears to offer a faster timeline toward resolution of whistleblower claims--an understandly attractive proposition given the long wait experienced by many claimants and employers for OSHA to complete investigations--employers should carefully evaluate the terms of participation before taking part in the program.