A whistleblower who lost his job with a Georgia roofing contractor because he cooperated with federal safety authorities investigating the company will receive back wages and other compensation.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed a lawsuit against Jasper Contractors Inc. of Kennesaw, Georgia on behalf of a former safety director who claimed he was fired after he cooperated with an OSHA investigation by providing the agency with a statement and safety documentation.
The federal agency was investigating safety-related issues concerning work the company was performing in Florida.
OSHA alleged the roofing company violated the whistleblower or anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which are designed to shield whistleblowers from backlash when they report alleged wrongdoing. Terminating an employee for cooperating with an OSHA investigation violates whistleblower protections contained in Section 11(c) of the OSH Act.
Jasper Contractors and its owner, Brian Wedding, have agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying the former employee $48,000 in back wages and compensatory damages and removing the disciplinary actions from the employee’s actions.
“It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee cooperating with an OSHA inspector. The OSH Act protects employees who exercise their right to report safety concerns and OSHA enforces those legal provisions,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator.
OSHA records show that Jasper Contractors has been cited for safety violations multiple times in the past. In 2015 alone, OSHA cited the roofing company five different times for putting its workers at risk of serious injury or death.
Since 2009, OSHA conducted 13 inspections at Jasper worksites and cited the contractor for two dozen safety violations ranging from serious and willful to repeat. Those violations resulted in more than $516,000 in penalties.
In April of 2016, Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, said that Jasper shrugged off its legal responsibility to protect its employees by claiming that they “are adults who know the risks.”
“This company’s dismissive approach toward workplace safety is illegal and irresponsible. OSHA will continue to use all its available resources to ensure workers are protected,” Mr. Sturtecky said at the time.