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Department of Labor Files Suit against Florida Construction Company for Terminating Employee Who Reported Workplace Violence to OSHA

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Duane Thomas Marine Construction LLC and owner Duane Thomas for violating Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

According to DOL, between December 9, 2009 and February 25, 2011, Duane Thomas created a hostile work environment by making sexually inappropriate comments and advances, yelling at employees, making physically-threatening gestures, and withholding employees’ paychecks. An employee who worked directly for Thomas confronted him about his behavior.

On February 25, 2011, the employee filed with OSHA a complaint alleging that Thomas had retaliated against him because he voiced his concerns about Thomas’s unlawful workplace behavior.  A couple of weeks later, Thomas received notification from OSHA that the complaint had been filed.  On March 23, 2011, Thomas changed the employee’s computer passwords, denied him remote access to work files, and terminated the employee.

Teresa Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Atlanta, stated:

“Employees have the right to raise workplace violence concerns without fear of retaliation… OSHA will continue to enforce the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act to protect employees who report violations.”

The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.

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