OSHA orders Columbia, S.C., real estate company to reinstate whistleblower and pay more than $50,000 in back wages
The company must pay back wages of more than $50,000, which accumulates weekly, with interest, while the employee is out of work, plus $16,222 in compensatory damages. The worker was terminated after he expressed concerns to management and two state agencies about exposure to asbestos at one of the company's condominium properties in Columbia., S.C.
"OSHA is very serious about protecting America's workforce," said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. "Employers found in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Clean Air Act or any of the 20 whistleblower laws we enforce will be held fully accountable."
Based on the worker's complaint, the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control inspected the condominiums, found that CMM Realty was in violation of asbestos control standards and issued citations against the company.
CMM Realty Inc. is a real estate management corporation primarily engaged in renting, buying, managing and appraising real estate for others. Located in Columbia, S.C., the company employs approximately 50 workers. Either party to the case may file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act and 19 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws; trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental and rail workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product safety laws. Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.