A Boulder, Colo.-based manufacturer of outdoor recreational equipment violated federal whistleblower protections by firing an employee in retaliation for reporting concerns about product safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said.
The agency ordered TruBlue, LLC, which does business as Head Rush Technologies, to pay a worker it terminated more than $125,000 in back wages and damages and take other corrective actions after an investigation found evidence that substantiated the worker’s claims.
Head Rush develops and manufactures products used for climbing, zip-line, free-fall and other outdoor recreational activities.
According to OSHA, the worker suggested to the company’s chief executive officer that more safety research was needed on zip-line equipment to improve safety. But instead of addressing the employee’s concerns, the company fired the employee for insubordination, OSHA said.
The company’s retaliatory actions violated the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which is designed to shield workers from retaliation when they report a potential violation of safety laws and other misconduct.
“An employee should feel and be free to exercise their rights under the law – especially when it comes to safety – without fear of retaliation by their employer,” said Gregory Baxter, regional OSHA administrator in Denver. “Our investigation and action on behalf of this worker underscores the agency’s commitment to take vigorous action to protect workers’ rights at Head Rush and elsewhere.”
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the CPSIA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various laws in the airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws industries.