June 28, 2016
OSHA orders tour bus operator's former owner to pay $11K
for retaliating after employee refused to drive unsafe bus
Federal whistleblower investigation upholds worker's rights
DENVER - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered the former owner of Banjo Billy's Bus Tours to pay a former employee back wages, interest and punitive damages after the agency found he terminated an employee who refused to drive an unsafe tour bus.
OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause to believe that John Georgis, previous owner of the Boulder-based tour operator, which offers guided bus tours in the Denver and Boulder areas, retaliated against the employee in violation of the worker's rights under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. The STAA protects workers who raise concerns about commercial motor vehicle safety or security or refuses to operate an unsafe vehicle.
Following its investigation, the agency ordered the company's former owner to pay the former bus operator $11,000 in back wages, interest and punitive damages. The company must also expunge the former employee's work records of any reference to their termination. Banjo Billy's Bus Tours is currently under new ownership.
"Employees should be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of termination or retaliation by their employers," said Gregory Baxter, OSHA's Regional Administrator in Region 8 in Denver. "This lawsuit underscores the department's commitment to vigorously take action to protect workers' rights."
Whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. Employees who believe their employer has retaliated against them for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Banjo Billy's Bus Tours or the complainant may file objections or request a hearing before the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges within 30 days of receipt of OSHA's order.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the STAA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
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Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistle-blower complaints.
Juan J. Rodríguez, 972-850-4709, firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 16-1297-DEN
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