OSHA finalizes ACA whistleblower and retaliation rule

OSHA has issued final regulations governing whistleblower and retaliation claims under Section 1558 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which added Section 18C to the FLSA. These regulations provide protections to employees who may have been subject to retaliation for seeking assistance under certain affordability assistance provisions, such as health insurance premium tax credits, or for reporting potential violations of the ACA’s consumer protections, such as the prohibition on rescissions.

In February 2013, OSHA issued an interim final rule governing these provisions and requested comment. Thirteen comments were received, 11 of which were responsive to the interim final rule. The final rule responds to those comments and establishes the final procedures and time frames for the handling of retaliation complaints under Section 18C, including for employee complaints to OSHA, OSHA investigations, appeals of OSHA determinations to an administrative law judge for a hearing de novo, ALJ hearings, review of ALJ decisions by the Administrative Review Board (acting on behalf of the Secretary of Labor), and judicial review of the Secretary’s final decision.

The final regulations also set forth the Secretary’s interpretations of the ACA whistleblower provision on certain matters.

The final rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

SOURCE: 81 FR 70607, October 13, 2016.

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