By way of the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the administration of President Barack Obama has initiated a new rule by which food safety whistleblowers will be protected from retaliation.

The implementation of this new rule is outlined in Section 402 of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act. It covers any employee that brings safety concerns or employer wrongdoing to the forefront at any point along the food chain--manufacturing, processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, receiving, storage or importation. In short, these employees cannot be fired or disciplined for reporting food safety violations.

Whistleblowing offenses can include:

  • Consumer product safety
  • Consumer financial protection
  • Environmental concerns
  • Federal rail safety
  • Aviation industry safety
  • Healthcare safety
  • Maritime industry safety

Now, some of those who claim to have been the target of employer revenge can bring their case to federal court and even before a jury of their peers. While the employee does not have to be correct in their accusation, they do have to possess a realistic belief that a food safety infraction of some kind has taken place. Pending a judgement in their favor, the whistleblower could be monetarily compensated in addition to reimbursement for attorney’s fees. The Labor Department says these whistleblower protections are essential to ensuring the nation's food safety and security.

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