In recent months, a number of federal labor and employment agencies have announced new initiatives intended to coordinate and cross-refer enforcement actions. This trend continued last week when the National Labor Relations Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new initiative intended to make the other agency aware of potential violations discovered during the course of their own enforcement efforts. Similar agreements have been announced over the past month between the DOL and Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and DOL.
The NLRB and OSHA will train investigators to recognize potential violations of the other agency’s regulations. If an OSHA investigator uncovers potential unfair labor practice issues during a workplace safety inspection, that investigator will provide the employees with information about their rights and how to contact the NLRB. Similarly, if an NLRB investigator learns of potential workplace safety concerns during an enforcement proceeding, he or she will refer the matter to OSHA for a potential workplace inspection.
The agencies also agreed to cooperate in cases of suspected retaliation against workers who exercise protected rights under federal labor laws. In some situations, OSHA and the NLRB will share data and conduct joint investigations of employers suspected of violating worker rights under the enabling statutes of both agencies. Employers involved in active labor disputes should recognize the potential for cross-referrals and multiagency investigations of employee labor and safety complaints.
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