OSHA Actions

Safety whistle-blowers awarded damages

Forty-one workers who reported workplace hazards in New York and New Jersey have been awarded more than $210,000 in back wages because they were fired or otherwise penalized. The U.S. Department of Labor supported their damage claims and sent a signal that whistle-blowers will find federal support after the fact.

The workers reached settlements with their employers, supported by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They received a total of $211,231, according to information from OSHA.

In addition to the back wages, the workers also received remedies such as reinstatement, restoration of vacations and 401K benefits, informal negotiated settlements between the complainants and their employers, and the requirement that employers display posters on the rights of employees.

OSHA regulations prohibit discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee for filing a complaint or reporting unsafe working conditions.

Workers who believe they have been illegally disciplined for whistle-blowing must contact an OSHA office within 30 days of when they learn of such action, with the exception of truckers, mechanics, and others involved in interstate trucking. They have 180 days.