US Department of Labor's OSHA orders DISH Network to pay more than $257,000
in wages and damages to blacklisted former employee
OSHA investigation found cable network violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered DISH Network to pay a former employee $157,024 in back wages, $100,000 in compensatory damages and take other corrective action. An OSHA whistleblower investigation found that the Colorado-based cable network, with offices in New York, violated the anti-retaliatory provisions* of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by blacklisting the former employee after he reported a vendor for submitting fraudulent invoices and testifying at a deposition.
"A worker has a right to report wrongdoing to their employer without fear of retaliation during their employment and after," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Blacklisting is a particularly insidious form of retaliation that can follow workers and even cost them new jobs. It is not only an unacceptable practice, it's illegal."
The employee worked in DISH's marketing department between March 2007 and November 2008. In the summer of 2008, the complainant notified his superior that a vendor was defrauding DISH by charging for work it had not done. He filed a complaint with OSHA in August 2011 after learning that he had subsequently been blacklisted three times after leaving DISH Network. These included a negative job reference, DISH's refusal to do business with the complainant's subsequent employer and its refusal to carry a satellite channel after learning that the complainant represented the channel. OSHA's investigation found merit to the complaint and has ordered DISH Network to take corrective action.
In addition to the wages and damages, OSHA ordered DISH Network to pay reasonable attorneys' fees for the complainant; expunge his employment record of any reference to his exercising his rights under Sarbanes-Oxley; not retaliate or discriminate in any way against the complainant; and post a notice in a place visible to employees about their whistleblower rights. Both the company and the complainant have 30 days from receipt of OSHA's finding to file an appeal with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley and 21 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, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at 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 U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.