Fired whistleblower gets $100K in court settlement
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Wisconsin in Green Bay has awarded a machine operator $100,000 in back wages and compensatory damages after his employer Dura-Fibre LLC – based in Menasha, Wisconsin – terminated him for reporting injuries he and a co-worker sustained.
Company disciplined workers who reported injuries
The judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor against Dura-Fibre LLC under the anti-retaliation provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The court considered whether the company terminated the employee based on the company's policy of assigning disciplinary points to employees who reported injuries. The court found this policy to be a potential deterrent to reporting work-related injuries.
"This employee's commitment to workplace safety should be commended," said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Chicago Regional Administrator Kenneth Nishiyama Atha. "Dura-Fibre has agreed to change its policy to allow employees to report work-related injuries without fear of discipline or retaliation."
Workforce will get training
In addition to paying back wages and damages, Dura-Fibre agreed to expunge the termination and all references to this action from the employee's record. The company will also train managers and employees on proper reporting of injuries and illness; inform employees of their rights under the OSH Act, and post information about OSHA whistleblower rights.
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. For more information on whistleblower protections, visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage