The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Arizona-based ammunition manufacturer Ammo Inc. and found that the company retaliated against an employee who spoke up about potential violations of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. The DOL ordered Ammo Inc. to reinstate and pay back wages, compensatory damages, and associated costs to the employee.
According to OSHA’s news release, the agency found that Ammo Inc. retaliated against the employee “after they voiced concerns that the transactions violated U.S. Security and Exchange Commission regulations.” The company removed the employee from the board of directors, and the employee resigned after their removal.
OSHA ordered Ammo Inc. “to reinstate the employee preliminarily to their previous position.” The company will also have to pay the employee “$485,000 in compensatory damages, more than $61,000 in back wages and $51,000 in attorney’s fees.” The news release states that Ammo Inc. “appealed the order to the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.”
Ammo Inc. was also ordered to “post a notice informing their employees of worker protection rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.”
“OSHA enforces federal laws that protect employees who report possible wrongdoing from fear of retaliation and punishment,” said OSHA Regional Administrator James D. Wulff in the news release. “The Sarbanes-Oxley Act ensures that employees can exercise their rights freely to report financial and shareholder concerns about publicly traded companies.”
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces 25 whistleblower statutes. However, OSHA has recently come under criticism: an article from Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, highlights the shortcomings of OSHA’s program and how staffing shortages have made it difficult for the agency to properly investigate whistleblower complaints. Read more here.