Whistleblower Law Blog
Topic: Occupational Safety and Health Act
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is known for its role in implementing and enforcing safety standards in workplaces across the United States. But another main role played by OSHA is its enforcement of the whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions of a number of statutes, including but not limited to: The Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Clean Air Act, the Surface Transportation Safety Act, and the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Several recent actions by OSHA demonstrate the seriousness with which OSHA enforces these statutes.
On August 4, 2015, OSHA announced that it filed suit against Continental Alloys and Services, Inc., a Houston-based company which provides steel for oil and gas companies, for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s whistleblower provision. In this case, a former employee filed a complaint for wrongful termination after Continental fired her, allegedly because she complained that the company failed to log workplace injuries in violation of OSHA regulations. The whistleblower reported several instances when the company failed to log injuries, and even recorded a meeting with the company official who failed to record the injuries in order to gather evidence for an internal investigation. Continental fired her as a result of her actions. In its suit, OSHA seeks an injunction barring further retaliation, and reinstatement, back pay, and any other damages suffered by the whistleblower.
Department of Labor Files Suit Against Retirement Facility for Terminating Whistleblower for Reporting Bedbug Infestation
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a whistleblower and retaliation lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against S.E.M. Villa II Inc., a nonprofit corporation that operates S.E.M. Terrace, a retirement facility in Milford, Ohio. The lawsuit alleges that S.E.M Terrace violated the whistleblower provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 when it terminated a resident manager after he filed a complaint with the Clermont County General Health District regarding the ineffective handling of bedbugs at the retirement facility.
Nick Walters, OSHAs regional administrator in Chicago, stated:
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to protecting the rights of America’s workers who are penalized or terminated for filing complaints seeking to improve the safety and health of their work environment and those affected by it.”
In addition to requesting reinstatement and compensatory damages, the lawsuit is asking that all negative information related the employee’s termination be removed from his personnel record. The lawsuit is also seeking to permanently enjoin S.E.M. Vila II Inc. from violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and that a notice be posted so all employees know their rights under the act.
The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.