Today's News

MSHA gets mine whistleblower reinstated (2/9)

February 9, 2011
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+


The complaint was anonymous, but when the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) followed up on it by speaking with a miner involved in an accident, he was fired the same day.

That action led to a discrimination case, a temporary reinstatement, then toanother complaint being lodged against the company – this time for post-reinstatement retaliation.

In an agreement announced Monday by MSHA. Comunidad Agricola Bianchi Inc. of San Juan, Puerto Rico, agreed to permanently reinstate Jose A. Chaparro to his job at the mine and to pay him $6,000 in back wages, as well as a $15,000 penalty. The mine operator also agreed that it would not unlawfully discriminate against any miner in its employ for engaging in protected activity.

In August 2009, MSHA launched an investigation into safey issues at the mine after received an anonymous hazard complaint that included details about an unreported June 2009 accident involving Chaparro. Shortly after cooperating with investigators, Chaparro was fired by the mine superintendent.

In a complaint filed with the Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, MSHA sought a finding that Chaparro was unlawfully discriminated against and discharged in violation of Section 105(c)(1) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which states that miners, their representatives and applicants for employment are protected from retaliation for engaging in safety and/or health-related activities, such as identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections or refusing to engage in an unsafe act. The complaint also sought Chaparro's reinstatement to his position or a comparable one, $6,000 in back pay, all employment benefits, all medical and hospital benefits, and any and all other damages suffered and incurred by Chaparro as a result of the discriminatory discharge, as well as a $15,000 civil money penalty.

Following a hearing in February 2010, a judge ordered Chaparro temporarily reinstated to his job at the mine. In a second amended complaint, MSHA brought a claim of post-reinstatement retaliation against Comunidad Agricola Bianchi Inc. and three individual representatives of the mine.

"The Mine Act is clear," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Miners have a right to participate in an MSHA investigation, and they may not be fired, demoted, harassed, transferred, refused employment or suffer any loss of wages for exercising their right. Meanwhile, my department's Mine Safety and Health Administration will continue to vigorously investigate all discriminatory complaints."

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE's Safety 2013 Review

A photo gallery from the Las Vegas Convention Center, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 24 to 27. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

THE MAGAZINE

ISHN Magazine

ishn april 2014 issue cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of ISHN, check out features about safety in the oil and gas industry.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2014

ISHN0114_FDO_cov.jpgFor Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THEJANUAYR 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.