Sept. 3, 2015
Legal Life Plans Inc. ordered to pay $119K in wages, damages
to whistle-blowing worker fired after reporting securities fraud
OSHA finds legal adviser violated federal whistleblower protections
DENVER - When an employee of a Utah based company discovered possible evidence of securities fraud, he spoke up about his internal investigations and concerns the company was making false representations to potential clients. The company responded by discharging him.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the employee's wrongful termination complaint filed in May 2013 and found that reporting the results of the securities fraud investigation and voicing concerns were factors in his dismissal.
On August 27, 2015, OSHA ordered Legal Life Plans Inc. to pay the former employee $119,556 in back wages, interest and attorney fees. In addition, the company must expunge all records of reference to the adverse actions against the employee and remove any derogatory references from the employees file, related to exercising his rights under the act.
OSHA found the worker's dismissal violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act*, which protects workers who report securities fraud from retaliation.
"Firing a worker for reporting securities fraud is illegal," said Gregory Baxter, regional administrator of OSHA's Denver office. "Employees must be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of losing their jobs or facing retaliation in the workplace. This order underscores the Labor Department's commitment to protecting those rights."
Both Legal Life Plans Inc. and the employee have 30 days from receipt of OSHA's findings to file objections and request a hearing before the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 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, maritime and railway safety laws.
Under laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. 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 employee rights information 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 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.
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Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Diana Petterson, 972-850-4710, firstname.lastname@example.org
Juan Rodriguez, 972-850-4709, email@example.com
Release Number: 15-1729-DEN
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