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OSHA Files Suit against U.S. Postal Service for Alleged Discrimination and Retaliation

On February 28, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed allegations that the United States Postal Service retaliated against a Seattle safety specialist who advised a co-worker to file a safety complaint. OSHA investigated the initial claim and found that the Postal Service violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Occupation Safety and Health Act.

The Postal Service transferred the safety specialist, who remains unnamed as a protected whistleblower, to another office after he helped a co-worker report “unhealthful conditions” to OSHA. In addition, the Postal Service gave the specialist’s work to someone on a lower pay grade and told him that he would not receive a pay raise because his supervisors did not approve of his filing a safety complaint with OSHA.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, asks that the Court order the Postal Service to pay the safety specialist for lost wages, benefits, and compensatory damages for emotional distress. It also seeks a permanent injunction against the Postal Service to prevent future violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, since this is OSHA’s second lawsuit against the Seattle Distribution Center.

In June 2009, OSHA sued the Postal Service alleging that an employee was wrongfully discharged after reporting unhealthy working conditions. The whistleblower in the  2009 case was the same employee that the safety specialist advised in the current case. A spokesman from OSHA stated that the 2009 case was withdrawn.

OSHA’s regional administrator, Dean Ikeda, stated that the Postal Service refused to settle the case out of court. Ikeda said, “This is something we take very seriously. Hostility and retaliation against whistleblowers are simply unacceptable.”

The Employment Law Group® law firm represents employees nationally who have been exposed to hazardous work conditions.

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