Region 8 News Release: 10-1125-DEN
Aug. 26, 2010
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
U.S. Labor Department's OSHA orders Utah Transit Authority to pay
more than $130,000 to former worker in whistleblower case
SALT LAKE CITY - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered the Utah Transit Authority, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, to immediately reinstate a wrongfully discharged employee to his former position and pay more than $130,000 in back wages with interest, compensatory damages and attorney's fees. OSHA's recently completed investigation determined that the Utah Transit Authority discharged the worker in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
The complaint filed with OSHA alleged that the Utah Transit Authority, which provides mass transportation to the public through bus, light rail, van pool and commuter rail services, had discharged the worker in retaliation for raising security concerns. Those concerns centered around the transit authority's issuance of keys to access the railroad's controls and switches for signals and tracks. FRSA protects employees of a railroad carrier and its contractors and subcontractors against retaliation for reporting certain safety and security violations. Employees are also protected for cooperating with investigations by OSHA and other regulatory agencies, and reporting on-the-job injuries. OSHA's investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the employee was discharged in retaliation for engaging in activities protected by the act.
In addition to monetary relief, OSHA ordered the Utah Transit Authority to display information in the workplace regarding whistleblower rights afforded to employees under the FRSA. Either party to the case can appeal the Secretary's Findings and Order within 30 days of receipt to the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 18 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, public transportation, health care, securities and financial reform laws. Detailed information about employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online 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 assure 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.
NOTE: The Labor Department does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.