Worker threatened, harassed after complaining about asbestos hazards
An employee who reported improper asbestos removal practices was fired and subjected to verbal threats and legal action, according to OSHA, which conducted a whistleblower investigation into the case.
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Albany, NY-based demolition and construction disposal contractor Champagne Demolition LLC and manager Joseph Champagne for terminating the employee, who worked for the firm at Gloversville High School.
The department's complaint charges that the defendants discriminated against the employee by conducting retaliatory acts in violation of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The DOL is asking the court to order the defendants to offer the employee reinstatement with full benefits and no break in seniority, expunge the employee's personnel record of any reference to the circumstances in this matter and post a notice of employees' right to report hazards without retaliation. In addition, the department is seeking lost wages as well as compensatory, punitive, emotional and financial distress damages for the worker.
Under the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.