Region 2 News Release: 06-898-NEW/BOS 2006-142
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2075
U.S. Labor Department Secures Back Wages for Brooklyn School-Bus Dispatcher Fired for Raising Health and Safety Issues
NEW YORK -- A former dispatcher for Student Bus Service Inc., of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was fired for complaining about working in cold temperatures inside an office trailer during 20 degree weather, has been paid $7,000 in back wages as the result of a consent judgment secured by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The employee was discharged in December 2003, shortly after complaining to management about the lack of heat in the workplace. The worker then filed a complaint with the DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), alleging that the termination violated the whistle-blower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH).
OSHA's investigation upheld the complaint. The agency ordered the company to reinstate the worker and pay back wages. When the company refused, DOL attorneys filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. That complaint resulted in a consent judgment signed on May 11 by U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser.
"Employees have a right to raise legitimate health and safety issues with their employer and to do so without fear of retaliation or termination," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator in New York. "This case shows we will pursue all necessary and appropriate legal remedies on behalf of employees who exercise their rights to a safe and healthful workplace."
In addition to ordering payment of the back wages, the judgment also prohibits officials of Student Bus Service Inc. from discriminating against workers who raise safety and health complaints, requires company officials to post a workplace notice informing employees of their rights under the OSH Act, and orders company officials to remove any references to discharge or suspension from the worker's personnel file.
Section 11(c) of the OSH Act protects workers' right to file a complaint with OSHA or to bring safety and health issues to the attention of their employer. Detailed information about workers' and employers' rights and responsibilities under the whistle-blower provisions of this and other statutes is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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(Civil Action File No. 05 CV 1239 Chao v. Student Bus Service, Inc.)
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