A worker who was fired after notifying OSHA about safety hazards will get back wages and a clean record, under a settlement reached between the agency and Environmental Management Specialists Inc. (EMS) of Steubenville, Ohio.
A field technician alleged EMS terminated him after he filed complaints with OSHA that employees were exposed to confined space and respiratory hazards as they cleaned storage tanks.
OSHA filed a lawsuit filed against the company under the anti-retaliation provision of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.
In addition to paying the technician $21,000 in back wages, EMS will expunge the termination and all references to this action from the employee’s record.
“An employee’s commitment to workplace safety should be commended – not punished,” said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA Chicago-area Regional Administrator. “This settlement represents a true win for an employee willing to exercise his rights to ensure workplace safety for his co-workers and himself.”
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide information to their employer or the government under any of these laws. Employees who believe they are retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with OSHA’s Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs.