A whistleblower who lost his job after reporting his concerns about unsafe working conditions at an Ohio-based environmental remediation and emergency-response company will receive $21,000 in back wages, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said.
The agency ordered Environmental Management Specialists Inc. (EMS) of Steubenville, Ohio, to compensate the worker for the lost work and to erase from his employment record his termination and all references to it that could harm his ability to find other employment.
The worker, a field technician, claimed that EMS fired him after he filed whistleblower complaints with OSHA alleging EMS violated occupational safety rules regulating confined spaces and respiratory hazards, which exposed workers to injury and illness.
“An employee’s commitment to workplace safety should be commended – not punished,” said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA Chicago-area Regional Administrator. “This settlement represents a true win for an employee willing to exercise his rights to ensure workplace safety for his co-workers and himself.”
Workers should never be harassed, demoted, fired, or in other ways punished for reporting legitimate job safety concerns to the proper authorities. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law in 1970 to ensure employers provide their workers with a workplace free of recognized hazards, including toxic chemicals, mechanical dangers, and unsanitary conditions.
The Act contains anti-retaliation provisions for whistleblower workers who voice concerns about health and safety hazards on the job.
Additionally, OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees across multiple industries. These laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide information to their employer or the government about workplace safety violations.