DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, June 11, 2012

OSHA Investigation Finds Youth Treatment Provider Retaliated Against Employee Who Voiced Water Quality Concerns

OSHA has ordered Anchorage-based North Star Behavioral Health System to reinstate an employee who was fired after reporting safety concerns about compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act at the company's residential youth facility outside of Anchorage.

An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found the termination violated the whistleblower provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The employee had reported concerns about safe drinking water and a lack of appropriate licensing for a North Star manager, who for several months held certain regulatory responsibilities regarding the facility's drinking water system. In retaliation for reporting the safety concerns to state agencies, the employer disciplined the complainant, ordered him to refrain from future contact with regulatory agencies and then fired him for allegedly sabotaging the facility's water supply. OSHA's investigation determined that the evidence did not support the employer's reasons for disciplining the employee or the allegations of sabotage. Files reviewed during the investigation showed a history of outstanding performance by the complainant prior to his engaging in protected activity.

OSHA's order requires that North Star immediately reinstate the whistleblower to his former position and pay him nearly $60,000 in back wages. The order also requires North Star to pay $75,000 in emotional distress damages, $100,000 in punitive damages, $2,018 in compensatory damages and approximately $35,600 in attorney fees. North Star also must post OSHA's whistleblower protection fact sheet at the facility.

North Star Behavioral Health System and the complainant each have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. Employees who believe 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 information on employer whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

Related Past Posts:
OSHA Orders Union Pacific To Reinstate Whistleblower
OSHA Orders AirTrans Pilot Reinstated
Protecting America's Workers Act

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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Blogger Fred said...

ngersidm 55What's going on here? Is this report correct? People we trust to help our kids getter better are not working safely?

10:20 AM  

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