Agreement Between OSHA, NLRB Could Result In Increased Labor And Safety Enforcement
Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to strengthen the two agencies’ efforts to protect workers who either speak out about health and safety working conditions or who engage in potential protected activity that triggers anti-discrimination and/or whistleblower protection under both federal labor law and health and safety laws.
Under the MOU, which is discussed here, the two agencies will work together to enhance information sharing and referrals, training, and outreach.
According to labor law experts at Morgan Lewis, “Now that federal labor and workplace safety officials have entered a partnership, employers face even more scrutiny from multiple agencies and should prepare for increased labor and safety enforcement efforts.”
They advise that employers facing OSHA-related investigations consult labor law counsel when submitting any responses or engaging with agency officials on employee complaints or disciplinary situations that easily could trigger unfair labor practice charges under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The law firm explained, “Statements or admissions made in one forum will impact the other. With the NLRB generally deeming all forms of employee advocacy at work, even a single employee raising a purported group safety concern or issue, as legitimate protected, concerted activity, employers should anticipate that the interagency dealings will result in dual-tracked investigation and/or litigation over the same conduct.”