Employee whistleblower protection provisions are included in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which President Bush recently signed into law.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 establishes consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for toys and other children’s products.
The new whistleblower law in Section 219 of the Act makes it unlawful for employers who manufacture, label, distribute or sell children’s products, to discriminate in any aspect of employment against employees who “blow the whistle” on their employers for violating the Act.
The whistleblower law also makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees because they objected to or refused to participate in any activity, policy, practice or assigned task that the employees believed would violate the Act.
To be protected from such discrimination, employees need only to reasonably believe that their employers (or employer representatives such as supervisory personnel) violated the Act.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for enforcing the Act at the Federal level, while the attorney general in each state is responsible for enforcing it at the state level. Whistleblowers are protected from discrimination whether they report violations internally to their employers, or externally to the Commission or the relevant state attorney general.
The Secretary of Labor is responsible for enforcing the whistleblower law under the Act. Should employers discriminate against employees who’ve blown the whistle or refused or objected as indicated above, then the employees (or their representatives, such as their attorneys) may file complaints with the Secretary of Labor to seek relief.
Employees must file their discrimination complaints within 180 days, because a statute of limitations applies. If the Secretary does not issue a final decision within the time constraints specified in the whistleblower law, then complainants may go to court to seek relief.
Whether through the Secretary or a court, “relief” includes one or more of the following.
- Job reinstatement with the same status and privileges
- Recovery of back wages
- Compensation for extra damages
- Reimbursement of attorney fees and other legal costs
As with all whistleblower laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees (or their representatives) for filing complaints with the proper authorities or suing in court. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees for testifying in related proceedings.
For more information, see the text of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (soon to become Public Law No: 110-314) and that of the new whistleblower law in Section 219. Consult an attorney for legal advice.