Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently filed suit against Angels Paws, an animal shelter in Colorado. They filed the lawsuit on behalf of a worker who was fired in violation of OSHA’s whistleblower provisions.
The worker was fired after they complained about various safety and health hazards that were observed with the company. The worker voiced concerns with the shelter’s management team before they decided to take the next step and file a complaint with OSHA. After the management team caught wind of the complaint filed with OSHA, the employee was terminated from their position with the company. After being fired, the employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA. The worker said that they experienced unwarranted retaliation. An investigation into the employee’s claims was then conducted by OSHA officials.
Our Boulder workers’ compensation lawyers understand that workers are protected under OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program from discrimination or retaliation from an employer for any unwarranted reason. Workers are protected from being laid off, being fired, from being blacklisted, demotions, denial of benefits, intimidation, reduction in hours or pay, reassignment, refusal of promotions, making threats, denying overtime and even demotion.
“Employees should be free to exercise their rights under the law without fear of termination or retaliation by their employers,” said Gregory Baxter, regional administrator of OSHA.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The lawsuit looks to have the employee reinstated in their position with the company, to gain compensatory damages, to require the company to post employees’ rights in the workplace and to provide the worker with lost back pay.
Employees have a right to speak up about any and all concerns of compromised safety that they have on the job. Workers are urged to speak up about hazards on the work site, including direct threats from unprotected machinery, threats from a lack of personal protective equipment and even threats that they experience from someone else who works with them.
There are 21 whislteblower statutes that are protecting workers from various forms of retaliation. Make sure you’re aware of these forms of retaliation and speak up if you’re being treated unfairly on the job.