Region 8 News Release: 11-1620-DEN (11-260)
Nov. 17, 2011
Contact: Michael Shimizu
US Department of Labor's OSHA files whistleblower lawsuit against
Brighton, Colo., medical clinic for firing employee who reported hazards
DENVER – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has filed a lawsuit against the Brighton Medical Clinic in Brighton and its owner, Dr. Luithuk Zimik, on behalf of an employee who was terminated in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The employee had complained about safety and health hazards to the clinic's management staff before filing a formal complaint about the hazards with OSHA. The employee was later discharged and then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation by the defendants in violation of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act. OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program conducted an investigation and determined the former employee's allegations had merit. After being notified of OSHA's findings, the defendants refused to reinstate the employee to the same or a substantially equivalent position and to pay back wages or other employment benefits.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, the complaint seeks to reinstate the employee, secure compensatory damages and lost back pay, and require the company to post a notice in a prominent place at the worksite for 60 days that explains employee rights under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act.
"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 Denver. "This lawsuit underscores the Labor Department's commitment to vigorously take action to protect those rights."
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, consumer product and food safety laws. Under these 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. Detailed information on 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 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.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Solis v. Brighton Medical Clinic et al.
Civil Action Number: 11-cv-02786-RPM-MJW
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.