Region 1 News Release: 11-1335-BOS/BOS 2011-329
Sept. 21, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department sues Beverly, Mass., dentist for allegedly firing
employee who raised concerns about contaminated needle disposal
BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has sued a Beverly dentist, N. Terry Fayad, and his practice for allegedly firing an employee for raising concerns about needlestick hazards and filing a health hazard complaint with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"No employer should ever treat employees this way," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Workers have the right to perform their jobs without being exposed to life-threatening hazards as well as the right to raise concerns when faced with such hazards. The Labor Department will take all appropriate legal steps to ensure these rights are enforced."
According to the complaint filed in U.S. district court in Boston by the department's Office of the Regional Solicitor, Fayad discharged a dental assistant in November 2010 after the employee raised concerns about an office procedure that required workers to remove protective caps from contaminated needles before putting the needles in disposal containers for sharps. This procedure exposed the employees to injury and possible infection by bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV.
The lawsuit seeks the employee's reinstatement; payment of lost wages, benefits, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also seeks to enjoin Fayad from violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the future.
A separate OSHA health inspection of the dental practice begun on Nov. 23, 2010, resulted in Fayad being cited for eight alleged serious violations of the agency's bloodborne pathogen and hazard communication standards, including having employees remove the caps from contaminated needles. Fayad has contested those citations and the accompanying $26,400 in proposed fines to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Detailed information on bloodborne pathogens and preventing needlestick injuries is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/index.html.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. Under these laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed employee rights information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's note: The Labor Department does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Solis v. N. Terry Fayad DMD PC, and N. Terry Fayad DMD, individually
Civil action file number: 11-c.v. 11611
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.