January 30, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Orders Michigan School District to Reinstate, Pay $102,905 to Second Employee Terminated for Warning of Unsafe Conditions

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decided that the Dearborn Heights School District violated whistleblower statutes by unjustly disciplining, publicly discrediting and terminating an worker who reported unsafe working situations to federal and state businesses. OSHA ordered the Michigan college district to reinstate the worker and pay a complete of $102,905.78 in again wages, damages and different compensation.

Federal investigators decided that the Michigan college district violated the Clean Air Act. The terminated worker served as a key witness for federal investigators in a 2012 whistleblower grievance from an worker who alleged worker and scholar publicity to asbestos on the public college. In fall 2016, the worker additionally reported potential publicity of pesticide on the college to the Michigan Environmental Protection Agency.

OSHA’s investigation discovered the Dearborn Heights School District publicly disputed these staff’ complaints, in addition to media experiences of potential publicity to hazards. The district additionally maintained an data hyperlink on its web site alleging that each staff had introduced misinformation and triggered a public well being scare. In addition, the district said on the general public web site that it was inside its rights to terminate whistleblowers, a transparent violation of federal regulation.

The worker assisted with the 2012 investigation after the employee objected when the director of operations and development administration informed the employee to dry sand flooring tiles that contained asbestos at Annapolis High School. The director failed to coach the employees in asbestos hazards and supply protecting gear.

Within days of receipt of the Department of Labor’s June 2016 findings within the worker’s whistleblower case, the college district allegedly launched into heightened surveillance of the second worker, a prolonged progressive self-discipline marketing campaign in opposition to the person, and ultimately terminated their employment for actions together with reporting unsafe situations to state and federal businesses.

“All workers are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace without the fear of retaliation for voicing concerns,” mentioned OSHA Acting Chicago Regional Administrator William Donovan. “No worker should be harassed, publicly defamed or punished for reporting unsafe working conditions, advocating for other employees and seeking assurances that they and students are not being exposed to carcinogenic materials.”

In the earlier motion, Dearborn Heights School District contested OSHA’s June 2016 findings in favor of the primary whistleblower. An Administrative Law Judge ordered the district, by means of a settlement, to pay the previous janitor $210,261 in again wages and damages on Feb. 14, 2018.

Both events have 30 days from the receipt of OSHA’s findings to file objections and request a listening to earlier than an administrative regulation choose.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes defending staff from retaliation for reporting violations of varied office security and well being, airline, industrial motor provider, client product, environmental, monetary reform, meals security, medical insurance reform, motorized vehicle security, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation company, railroad, maritime, and securities legal guidelines and for participating in different associated protected actions.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are accountable for offering protected and healthful workplaces for his or her staff. OSHA’s position is to assist guarantee these situations for America’s working women and men by setting and imposing requirements, and offering coaching, training, and help. For extra data, go to https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; enhance working situations; advance alternatives for worthwhile employment; and guarantee work-related advantages and rights.

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Editor’s observe: The U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t launch names of staff concerned in whistleblower complaints.

Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-4727, [email protected]
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, [email protected]

Release Number: 19-950-CHI

U.S. Department of Labor information supplies are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The Department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental data and paperwork into various codecs, which embody Braille and huge print. For various format requests, please contact the Department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

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Jeff Thornton