Risk & Compliance

OSHA Orders Controller to be Rehired

According to the agency, the former Trane Corp. finance executive was fired in violation of whistle-blowing protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act a...
Stephen TaubNovember 19, 2004

A former finance executive of an industrial-products company has regained his job and will receive back wages under the whistle-blowing provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered the American Standard Cos. and subsidiary Trane Corp. to reinstate former Trane controller David Windhauser, to pay him $105,489.55 in back pay and compensatory remedies, and to remove any disciplinary letters from his personnel file. OSHA determined that Windhauser had been fired in violation of Sarbox after he raised questions about company accounting practices to his supervisors.

“This is precisely the type of whistle-blowing activity that is protected under the law,” said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, in a statement. “We are determined to enforce the law so that employees who expose corporate wrongdoing know they will be protected.”

Under Sarbanes-Oxley, employees can file complaints with OSHA if they have been retaliated against by their employers for reporting suspected corporate fraud or other activities related to fraud against shareholders. If the agency’s investigation determines that an employee’s complaint has merit, OSHA can order remedies such as reinstatement and back pay.

The announcement comes several days after Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who wrote the whistle-blower section of Sarbanes-Oxley, called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to aggressively enforce the rule, according to the Associated Press. The two senators pointed out that the law says any violation of its provisions “shall be treated for all purposes…as a violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934,” which the SEC is charged with investigating, the wire service added.