The U.S. Labor Department claims that Metra—the Illinois Regional Transportation Authority’s commuter rail division—unlawfully retaliated against a whistleblower, according to the Chicago Tribune. The whistleblower, identified as a 22-year-old male employee working for Metra as a signalman, filed a safety complaint with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). After filing, he saw his hours decrease until his position was eventually eliminated, according to his complaint.
The employee initially complained about not having enough time to perform standard safety tests on signals and requested overtime hours to complete the task, which was denied.
“An employer does not have the right to retaliate against employees who report safety issues,” Nick Walters, an OSHA regional administrator in Chicago said. “When employees can’t report safety concerns on the job without fear of retaliation, worker safety, and in this case, passenger safety on Metra, [it] becomes a serious concern.”
OSHA ordered Metra to pay the employee $38,000 in back wages overtime pay. OSHA determined that the employer used the complaint as pretext for diminishing the hours of the employee.
Whistleblower protection laws are essential for a safe working environment. If workers are scared to report safety issues, problems go unaddressed, which can lead to workplace accidents. Please visit our site for more information on workers comp, and contact our office today at (614) 221-7548.
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