As first reported by Law 360 reporter Kat Greene on December 5, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled a new online complaint form to complement its telephone hotline. The nineteen-question form is not tailored in any respect to SOX whistleblowers. Rather, the form requires the complainant to describe the “hazardous condition” about which the complaint is being filed.
OSHA’s attempt to make the complaint procedure more accessible to whistleblowers is consistent with the Administrative Review Board’s current view that the pleading standard under SOX is significantly more lenient than Rule 12 in federal court. Indeed, to state a viable SOX complaint, a whistleblower need only plead “a full statement of the acts and omission, with pertinent dates, which are believed to constitute [SOX violations].” Sylvester v. Parexel International LLC, ARB Case No. 07-123, May 25, 2011). Employers should be prepared that the new online avenue will likely increase whistleblower complaints.