Monday, Jan. 11, 2010
Contact: Elizabeth Todd
US Department of Labor secures back wages
for fired whistleblower in Corpus Christi, Texas
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A former employee of Corpus Christi-based Orion Drilling Co., fired after complaining to management about being exposed to mold in the workplace, has been paid $10,000 in back wages as a result of a settlement secured by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The former employee, who served as a crew member on a drilling rig, complained to management about being exposed to mold in the crew members' living quarters. After being fired, the former employee filed a complaint with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alleging a violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. OSHA's investigation found merit to the complaint.
After OSHA informed the employer of its preliminary finding and referred the case to the Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor for enforcement, the employer elected to settle the case. In addition to paying the complainant the $10,000 in lost wages, the settlement agreement requires the employer to post a notice in the workplace informing employees of their rights under the OSH Act and to purge all derogatory or negative statements from the fired employee's personnel file.
"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, Texas. "This settlement underscores the Labor Department's commitment to vigorously take action to protect worker rights."
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. Detailed information about employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at: http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Under the OSH Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's Note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.