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DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with what is happening at OSHA as well as other workplace safety news. Includes a report on the significant OSHA citations announced the previous week. Plus we scan national and local (and world) publications for workplace safety news. This is your source for the latest safety news.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Warning. Do Not Yell At Employees. OSHA May Sue You.

An OSHA press release is reporting  that OSHA has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, against Duane Thomas Marine Construction LLC and owner Duane Thomas for terminating an employee who reported workplace violence, in violation of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The suit resulted from an investigation by OSHA after receiving a complaint from the employee alleging that, on numerous occasions between Dec. 9, 2009, and Feb. 25, 2011, Mr. Thomas committed workplace violence and created hostile working conditions.The complaint states that Mr. Thomas allegedly behaved abusively, made inappropriate sexual comments and advances, yelled, screamed and made physically threatening gestures, in addition to withholding the employee's paycheck.

The employee, who worked directly for Thomas, reported to him that he was creating hostile conditions. On Feb. 25, 2011, the employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA alleging discrimination by Thomas for having reported the conditions to him. On March 18, 2011, Thomas received notification of the complaint filing. On March 23, 2011, Thomas had computer passwords changed in order to deny the employee remote access to files and then terminated the employee.

OSHA's subsequent investigation found merit to the employee's complaint.

The suit seeks back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as front pay in lieu of reinstatement. Additionally, it seeks to have the employee's personnel records expunged with respect to the matters at issue in this case and to bar the employer against future violations of the OSH Act.

The Department of Labor does not release the names of employees who file whistleblower complaints.

Solis v. Duane Thomas Marine Construction LLC and Duane Thomas, individually
Civil Action File Number 2:13-cv-76-FTM-99-DNF

What do you think Mr. Thomas should have done?  We don't have the circumstances of what happened.  But, it appears something happened that got Mr. Thomas very upset. Should he have just fired the employee, without yelling at them? Use the comment link below to share your thoughts.

Related Past Posts:
Letter To Congress From ASSE
Using Cartoons In Your Safety Presentations
Canadian Companies Get Creative Sentences For Safety Violations

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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