Dec. 1, 2014
Mail handler fired following work-related injury at
Sharonville, Ohio, US Postal Service facility
US Department of Labor files lawsuit on employee's behalf for wrongful termination
SHARONVILLE, Ohio – A U.S. Postal Service mail handler was terminated after being transported to a medical facility for treatment of a workplace injury. The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against the Postal Service on behalf of the employee at the Sharonville facility. The lawsuit seeks restoration of lost pay and benefits totaling approximately $9,000.
"The Postal Service terminated this employee for working unsafely, despite statements from co-workers and witnesses contradicting that story," said Nick Walters, regional administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Chicago. "No worker should be subject to such treatment. The department will do everything to prevent this type of unlawful retaliation."
The department's lawsuit alleges that the employee emptied containers onto a conveyor belt for sorting and processing when the door on a container unexpectedly opened and hit the worker's head. A supervisor brought the employee to a hospital for treatment and release.
Five days later, the employee was terminated for allegedly working in an unsafe manner.
In addition to back wages, the suit would require that disciplinary information be removed from the employee's record. Additionally, the Postal Service would post information on employee whistleblower rights at the distribution facility. The employee did not seek reinstatement.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division in Cincinnati, alleges the Postal Service violated the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Cleveland is litigating the case.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide information to their employer or the government under any of these laws. Employees who believe they are a victim of retaliation for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with OSHA's Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs.
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.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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Perez v. U.S. Postal Service
Civil Action Number: 1-14-cv-00898
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Release Number: 14-2096-CHI
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).