US Labor Department's OSHA orders Jersey Window Factory & Building
Supply in Newark, NJ, to reinstate whistleblower following investigation
Truck driver protected by Surface Transportation Assistance Act
NEWARK, N.J. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Newark-based Jersey Window Factory & Building Supply Inc. to reinstate a truck driver who was fired after reporting safety concerns about the commercial vehicle he was driving.
An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause that the termination violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. OSHA has ordered the company to pay the former worker back wages and bonuses that cover the period from July 2008 until a bona fide offer of reinstatement is made. The company also has been ordered to pay $18,000 in compensatory damages.
The employee raised concerns verbally and in a letter about vehicle defects, including broken sideview mirrors, a driver's door that couldn't be opened properly, a broken window handle and a deficient steering mechanism. After submitting a second letter, which outlined further safety concerns and questioned whether the company's safety practices were in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, the employee's hours were reduced. The employee subsequently filed an OSHA safety complaint and was terminated on July 2, 2008.
Either party to the case has 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
"Workers have the right to voice safety concerns without fear of retaliation or termination," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Employers found in violation of whistleblower protection provisions will be held accountable."
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the STAA 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 the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or 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 information on employer whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, 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 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 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.