OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 2 News Release: 06-1298-NEW/BOS 2006-211
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn, N.Y., book wholesaler must offer reinstatement and pay more than $18,000 to an employee who was fired for filing a safety complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An OSHA whistleblower investigation found that Books for Less LLC, 101 Steuben St., had fired the employee on March 3, two days after an OSHA inspection occurred that was prompted by the employee's complaint. OSHA ordered the company to reinstate the worker. DOL attorneys then filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York that resulted in a consent judgment signed July 19 by U.S. District Judge Sandra L.Townes.
"Employees have the right to file a complaint with OSHA about possible safety and health hazards without fear of retaliation or termination," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator in New York. "This judgment reinforces the Labor Department's commitment to secure appropriate legal recourse for workers who are punished for exercising their right to a safe and healthful workplace."
The judgment orders Books for Less LLC and Michael Shmuely, its owner and president, to offer to reinstate the employee to his former, or a substantially equivalent position, pay $18,365 in back wages, health-care benefits and pre-judgment interest, and restore to the worker all employee benefits he would have earned had his employment not been interrupted.
It also prohibits the defendants from discharging or discriminating against any employee who files an OSHA complaint and orders them to post a notice to employees about their whistleblower rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In consenting to the judgment, the defendants neither admit nor deny the allegations in the complaint.
Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act protects a worker's right to file a complaint with OSHA or bring safety and health issues to the attention of their employer. Information about the whistle-blower provisions of this and other laws is available at www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
(06-CV-03340-SLT-CLP; Chao v. Books for Less LLC, et al.)
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor 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 www.dol.gov/compliance.
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