Tuesday, October 18, 2016

OSHA publishes final rule on whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act

As I’ve previously documented in this space, OSHA does a whole lot more than just regulate workplace safety. Its other responsibilities include enforcing the anti-retaliation whistleblower protections of a veritable alphabet soup of federal laws.

One such law is the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare). And, just last week OSHA published its final rule on whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act, available for download as a pdf here.

What does OSHA want you to know about this new rule? The ACA protects employees from retaliation for:
  • reporting violations of the various reforms found in Title I (i.e.,  not providing health insurance); and 
  • receiving a premium tax credit or a cost sharing reduction for enrolling in a qualified health plan (i.e., subsidizing an employee, high risk or otherwise, to enroll for insurance on the Exchange instead of via an employer’s group health plan).
An employee who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in violation of Title I of the ACA has 180 days after the alleged retaliation to file a complaint with OSHA.

OSHA has more information on this new rule in a Fact Sheet, available here [pdf].

Given OSHA’s now lightened standard for employee retaliation claims, this issue is definitely one that needs to be on employers’ radars, especially as employers try to develop new and creative way to curb the surging cost of health insurance.