Under section 11(c) of the OSH Act of 1970, employees are protected from retaliation for raising workplace health and safety concerns and reporting work-related injuries and illnesses. When an employee files a whistle blower complaint, they cannot be subjected to unfavorable employment actions, which might include employment termination, demotion, denying overtime or promotion, intimidation and threats or other adverse actions against the reporting employee.
A recent ruling involving an employee of a New York demolition company put the law to the test. The employee was fired after raising concerns about his company improperly removing asbestos from a local high school. Adding insult to injury, his company filed a defamation lawsuit against the employee.
Of course, adverse employment actions such as these might make an employee think twice before taking a stand, however, the law is written to protect employees that do. As such, OSHA brought suit on behalf of the employee under section 11(c) of the OSHA Act of 1970 that protects employees from retaliation when they report health and safety concerns.
After looking at the facts, the jury sided with the employee, awarding $103,000 in back wages, 20k in compensatory damages and 50k in punitive damages. Although the court did not rule on whether the filing of the defamation lawsuit was also retaliatory for procedural reasons, the details of the summary judgement made it clear saying, “lawsuits filed with the intent to punish or dissuade employees from exercising their statutory rights are a well-established form of adverse action”.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to assure (so far as possible) every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions. When employers retaliate against employees who report potential safety or health issues, section 11(c) of OSHA provides whistle blowers needed protection making workplaces safer for everyone.
Protect Yourself from Employer Retaliation
Contact an Experienced Davenport Wrongful Termination Attorney
If you have been subjected to an adverse employment action such as wrongful termination after raising safety or health concerns or reporting illnesses or injuries at your place of employment, it is important to seek help. Contact the employment law offices of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC if you have been wrongfully terminated or subjected to other retaliation in the workplace or have been a victim of workplace discrimination. Our Davenport, Iowa employment law attorneys can help. Call today at 563-355-6478.