Alternative Dispute Resolution Program

Some OSHA regional offices offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a way to resolve whistleblower complaints outside of the investigative process.

Using ADR, parties voluntarily attempt to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of an OSHA representative instead of going through the investigation and litigation process.

The focus of ADR is quick resolution of the whistleblower complaint, rather than investigating the merits of the allegations. ADR allows parties to attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution more quickly than through investigation and litigation.

If both parties agree to participate in ADR, an OSHA representative who is not involved in the investigation of the complaint will be assigned to facilitate ADR. The OSHA representative will work with the parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the whistleblower complaint and may help the parties to draft a written settlement agreement. 

Once a settlement agreement is reached, it must be reviewed and approved by OSHA following the policies and procedures outlined in the Whistleblower Investigations Manual and other applicable guidance. 

While ADR is ongoing, OSHA’s investigation of the whistleblower complaint will be put on hold. If the parties fail to reach a settlement during ADR, OSHA will proceed with its investigation. However, parties may reach a settlement at any time during the investigation. 

Yes. Parties may request to participate in ADR at any time during OSHA’s investigation. However, both parties must agree to participate.

No. There is no charge to participate in OSHA’s ADR program.

ADR is separate from OSHA’s investigative process. If the parties fail to reach a settlement during ADR, OSHA will proceed with its investigation. Information shared with the OSHA representative during ADR will not be shared with the OSHA investigator or any OSHA official involved in the investigation. However, a party may share the documents and evidence that it shared during ADR with the assigned investigator for consideration in the investigation.