12.17.12 — Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has announced that Emily Spieler, Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, will chair the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee (WPAC), which is charged with advising, consulting with and making recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on ways to improve the fairness, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) whistleblower protection programs. The WPAC’s first meeting is scheduled for January 29, 2013. 

“Protecting workers who identify wrongdoing is an essential cornerstone of the U.S. Department of Labor’s worker protection enforcement efforts,” said Secretary Solis. “The members of the whistleblower committee, who represents the interests of labor, management and the public, will utilize their expertise to provide valuable advice and recommendations to help OSHA strengthen and improve our whistleblower protection program.”

The 12 voting and three ad-hoc members of the WPAC were appointed by Solis. All members will serve two-year terms, and the committee will meet at least twice a year. Three members, including Spieler, represent the public; four members represent management; four members represent labor, one member represents OSHA; and three non-voting members represent federal agencies.

“Workers are on the frontline, and they will only raise safety and ethical concerns about their employers if they are protected from retaliation,” said Spieler, a labor and employment law expert who served as dean of Northeastern University School of Law from 2002 to 2012. “The Department of Labor is responsible for the investigation of complaints of retaliation under more than 20 federal laws, ranging from Sarbanes Oxley to the Consumer Product Safety Act to the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This committee will assist the Department to ensure that complaints of retaliation are investigated thoroughly and that the Department is doing everything in its power to protect workers who raise concerns. This is important work, and I am honored to have been asked to serve as the committee’s chair.”

This is not the first time the Obama administration has called upon Spieler’s expertise. During the winter of 2008-2009, she served on the president’s transition team for the Department of Labor. She currently serves as chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has also served on the National Academy of Social Insurance Steering Committee on Workers’ Compensation; on the National Academies Committee on Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers; and as chair of the US Department of Energy Worker Advocacy Advisory Committee regarding implementation of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000. She is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, ex-officio member of the American Law Institute, and fellow and member of the board of governors of the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers. 

About Northeastern University School of Law
The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students an unparalleled full year of practical legal work. All students participate in four, full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 900 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education for the past 45 years, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.