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Book wholesaler must reinstate whistleblower, OSHA rules

A Brooklyn, N.Y., book wholesaler must offer reinstatement and pay more than $18,000 to an employee who was fired for filing a safety complaint with OSHA.

An OSHA whistleblower investigation found that Books for Less LLC had fired the employee on March 3, two days after an OSHA inspection occurred that was prompted by the employee's complaint. The agency ordered the company to reinstate the worker. Department of Labor attorneys then filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York that resulted in a consent judgment.

"Employees have the right to file a complaint with OSHA about possible safety and health hazards without fear of retaliation or termination," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator in New York.

The judgment orders Books for Less LLC and its owner/president to offer to reinstate the employee to his former, or a substantially equivalent position. The company must also pay $18,365 in back wages, healthcare benefits and pre-judgment interest, and restore to the worker all employee benefits he would have earned had his employment not been interrupted.

The judgment also prohibits the defendants from discharging or discriminating against any employee who files an OSHA complaint and orders them to post a notice to employees about their whistleblower rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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