The Department of Labor has entered into a settlement with Triple B Cleaning Inc. in Houston to resolve findings by OSHA that the company illegally terminated an employee because of complaints about safety issues.

OSHA whistleblower investigators found that an employee of Triple B Cleaning requested personal protective equipment while performing dry cleaning duties. The request was denied by the company. The employee notified the media, and after a reporter contacted the employee's supervisor, the employee was demoted and assigned remedial tasks. Following the airing of the employee's complaint by local news, the employee was terminated.

"Employees should be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of retaliation by their employers," said Dean McDaniel, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "The Labor Department is committed to vigorously taking action to protect those rights."

After being terminated, the employee filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Triple B acted in retaliation for contact to the media about unsafe working conditions. OSHA investigated the complaint and determined that Triple B Cleaning's decision to terminate the employee was in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

In addition to operating in the state of Texas, Triple B Cleaning, with a home office in Mexia, Texas, has businesses in Florida and New York. The Houston company was the only business under investigation.

The company entered into a consent judgment after OSHA referred the case to the Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor for enforcement. Pursuant to the terms of the consent judgment, Triple B Cleaning has paid the employee $30,000 for lost wages, agreed to an injunction prohibiting future discrimination and posted a notice advising its employees of their rights under OSHA's whistleblower protection provision.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 16 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail and securities laws.

Note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.