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Worker fired for refusing to enter trench with no cave-in protection

December 21, 2012
KEYWORDS cave-in
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OSHA trench danger posterA company that terminated an employee who refused to enter a 15-foot-deep trench without adequate cave-in protection is headed to court.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against DKS Structural Services -- doing business as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co. -- and owner Jeffrey Kennedy after OSHA determined that the Huntsville, Al. company had violated Section 11(c) of the OSH Act's Section 11 for the action.

Following a timely employee complaint and subsequent investigation, OSHA found that the company unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees who report or refuse to work in unsafe conditions.

The department's lawsuit seeks back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. Additionally, it requests that the employee's personnel records be expunged with respect to the matters at issue in this case, the employer be barred against future violations of the OSH Act by a permanent injunction and any other appropriate relief.

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