Whistleblowers Win Cases

Advocates for worker health and safety have been arguing for years that workers’ rights to file OSHA complaints without fear of retaliation need strengthening. “Whistleblower” complaints from workers who have been fired, demoted, or harassed after filing OSHA complaints often lead to years-long investigations without resolution or restitution for the victim. But a former employee of Able Linen Service in Auburn, NY and a welder employed by Union Pacific Railroad Co. proved that it’s not impossible to get justice under the whistleblower law.

In the case of the railway worker, Occupational Health and Safety reports that “the investigation found that the track maintenance manager illegally abolished the welder position in Beverly, forcing the worker to accept a welding position in Marshalltown, Iowa, which increased his daily commute by 131 miles and took him away from his family for extended periods of time.”

“A supervisor does not have the right to abolish a job position because he becomes annoyed by a worker voicing safety concerns,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “While OSHA is best known for ensuring the safety and health of employees, it is also a federal government whistleblower protection agency.” (Read the full article here.

In the case of the laundry worker, the Post-Standard of Syracuse reports that

“In 2005, the employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA about potentially unsafe conditions at the company’s laundry at 46 S. Lewis St. OSHA found merit in the complaint and ordered the employee’s reinstatement and payment of accrued wages and benefits.

However, the laundry and Logudice didn’t respond to the investigation, the order, administrative subpoenas, summonses and other legal actions until the Department of Labor secured a default judgement from the court in August.

“Ignoring the law is no refuge from being subject to it,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

In addition to paying the judgment, the laundry has been ordered to post OSHA’s whistleblower posters at its locations in Auburn, Cicero and Liverpool. The company must also give current workers and new hires a whistleblower fact sheet to ensure they are aware of their rights.”

For more information about Whistleblower rights, see our factsheet here.

The full article in the Post-Standard is here