The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Coit Services of Ohio to pay $161,228 to a whistleblower. According to an OSHA news release, the whistleblower is a technician who was fired by Coit Services after reporting unsafe lead abatement practices.
“Professionals, who work in the restoration and cleaning industry, have a right and a responsibility to express their professional opinion and report safety-related concerns,” Nick Walters, OSHA regional administrator in Chicago, told the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public affairs. “The department’s responsibility is to protect all employees from retaliation for exercising basic worker rights. The CAA and TSCA protect workers who, in turn, protect the public.”
The unsafe lead abatement practices that the technician reported occurred when another employee deviated from lead safety practices by using a circular saw improperly to remove a ceiling, which possibly spread lead-based paint dust throughout a home being renovated. The technician, who has a license from the Environmental Protection Agency to perform renovation work on homes that potentially contain lead paint, reported the breaches of lead abatement protocol and lost his job for it.
After the employee was terminated, OSHA initiated an investigation. The investigation found that the firing was a violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. OSHA had Coit Services reinstate the technician to his former job with all pay, benefits and rights. In addition, the technician received $82,000 in back pay, $60,000 in compensatory damages and $19,228 in attorney’s fees.
For a company to ignore safety violations is irresponsible at best and criminal at worst. An employee should feel not only comfortable but also obligated to report such violations to their employer. Workers should not fear retaliation for improving the safety of their workplace.
Since 1929, our firm has been defending the rights of workers whose employers have failed to provide them with a safe work environment. Some of our cases have involved something as simple as a company having its employees work in a position that causes them to get carpal tunnel syndrome. Others have involved something as sudden and devastating as a fatal workplace accident. Whatever your case involves, we will be there to help you fight to bring those responsible to justice and recover the compensation you and your family needs to move on with your lives.
For more information about workers’ comp and Social Security disability benefits and how we can help you if you have been injured on the job, contact our firm today at (614) 221-7548 to schedule a free consultation.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys