US Department of Labor files whistle-blower lawsuit
against Helena, Mont.-based Kbec Inc.
HELENA, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana alleging that Helena-based Kbec Inc., a Dairy Queen franchisee, illegally terminated an employee for making complaints regarding workplace violence at the company's facility.
"Employees should be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of termination or retaliation by their employers," said Gregory Baxter, regional administrator of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Denver. "This lawsuit underscores the department's commitment to vigorously take action to protect workers' rights."
OSHA opened an investigation after the worker filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging retaliation by the company in violation of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which prohibits discharge or other retaliation against workers for filing a safety or health complaint, or for exercising other rights afforded to them by the act. The investigation revealed that the employee was fired shortly after raising concerns about workplace violence.
The department is seeking reinstatement of the employee, payment of lost wages and benefits and enjoining the company from future retaliation against its employees. Kbec Inc. operates two Dairy Queen franchises in Helena.
OSHA enforces the whistle-blower provision in Section 11(c) of the act and 21 additional statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product and food safety laws. Under the various whistle-blower provisions that Congress has enacted, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that an employer has retaliated against them for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. For more information, visit 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, http://www.osha.gov.
Note: The department does not release names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.