The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against Promesa Systems Inc., a New York City nonprofit organization providing care to individuals with developmental disabilities, for allegedly firing an employee who voiced workplace safety and health concerns and filed a complaint with OSHA. Also named in the suit is Promesa Systems' wholly owned subsidiary, East Harlem Council for Community Improvement Inc., and three managers.
"Firing or retaliating against workers who voice safety and health issues or contact OSHA can dissuade workers from reporting safety and health concerns, and thereby mask unsafe or unhealthful conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Employers need to understand that this type of behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated. We will actively pursue appropriate legal remedies in such cases."
OSHA found that, a few days after the employee advised the defendants that she would consult OSHA regarding an assignment that they had given her, the defendants suspended her during an internal investigation which included a review of her on-the-job performance. At the end of the company's investigation, the employee was fired. OSHA found evidence that the internal probe was used as a pretext to fire the employee for her whistleblower actions. The Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after the defendants failed to take corrective action.
The complaint seeks a judgment ordering all appropriate relief for the worker, including reinstatement, back pay with interest and compensatory damages, as well as prohibiting the defendants from future violations and having them post and comply with a workplace notice that they will not discriminate against employees who engage in protected safety and health activities.