Most Big Companies Share Scant Worker Safety Data in SEC Filings
Securities Enforcement Defense Team Co-Chair Scott Mascianica was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about the questions companies are facing when disclosing workplace safety data to investors. Companies are trying to determine what occupational safety and health concerns need to be addressed in 10-Ks or in sustainability reports that aren’t regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Companies that don't acknowledge these concerns in reports could face significant problems that may expose themselves to SEC scrutiny.
"You have the rules that exist on the book, but you have a collection of rules that have been proposed,” Mr. Mascianica said. “I think companies are trying to answer the questions of, well, we may not have to disclose it, but should we? And if we should—where?”
Mr. Mascianica noted the recent prosecution of video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for not disclosing allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace culture. He said that Activision told investors and the government that it was important to retain key employees, but the SEC accused the company of misleading investors about its work environment that would lead to key employees leaving.
The SEC could apply the same principle to a company that touted its worker safety program while not disclosing problems if the issue was likely to affect the stock value.
“It absolutely could be and it is something companies will have to think about,” Mr. Mascianica said.