OSHA Orders Whistleblower Reinstated

Whistleblower David Windhauser, a controller for the Trane Corporation, must be reinstated and paid more than $105,000 in back wages, ruled the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA referred to the whistelblowing provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 when making its ruling that Windhauser's termination after he raised questions about the company's accounting practices to his supervisors, Business & Legal Reports (BLR.com) reported.

Windhauser complained to OSHA's New York regional office after he was terminated. Patricia K. Clark, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, told BLR that an investigation by her office determined that Windhauser had been discharged in violation of Sarbanes-Oxley.

BLR reported that under Sarbanes-Oxley (the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act), an employee may file a complaint with OSHA if the employee has been retaliated against by his or her employer for reporting suspected corporate fraud or other activities related to fraud against shareholders. If OSHA determines after an investigation that an employee's complaint has merit, it can order remedies such as reinstatement and back pay.

"This is precisely the type of whistleblowing activity that is protected under the law," Clark told BLR. "We are determined to enforce the law so that employees who expose corporate wrongdoing know they will be protected."

Whistleblower provisions in 14 laws, including Sarbanes-Oxley, are enforced by OSHA.

Windhauser and the Trane Corporation each have 30 days to file objections and request a hearing on the matter with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, BLR reported.

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