US Department of Labor's OSHA settles retaliation case with McKees
Rocks Industrial Enterprises
Company agrees to pay employee $100,000 in monetary damages
MCKEES ROCKS, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into an agreement with McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises Inc. and James T. Lind, the company's president, resolving a lawsuit alleging the illegal termination of a general laborer. The worker raised safety concerns at the company's McKees Rocks work site, which serves as both an industrial park and a terminal facility, resulting in an inspection by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Following OSHA's inspection, the employee was initially reassigned duties and later terminated from his position.
"Every worker has the right to call attention to workplace safety and health issues without the fear of retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "This settlement is a testament to OSHA's unwavering commitment to intervene legally when workers are the victims of a wrongful termination."
The employee filed a complaint after termination alleging that the defendants had violated Section 11(c) of the OSH Act. OSHA conducted an investigation and found the company had violated the act by firing the employee in retaliation for his safety complaint. In September 2013, the department filed suit in federal district court seeking reinstatement and monetary damages on behalf of the employee.
A judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania provides for the payment of $100,000 to the employee. The ruling also permanently prohibits the defendants from violating the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The judgment requires the defendants to display information prominently on whistleblower protections at the facility; remove all disciplinary action in the employee's official employment record; and provide prospective employers with a neutral reference for the worker.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act, as well as 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, 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 an employer, the government, union or the media. Employees who believe that 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 employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available 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 the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
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Perez v. McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises Inc. et al.
Civil Action File Number: 13-1374
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