The U.S. Department of Labor is filing a lawsuit against North Jackson Specialty Steel, alleging that the company violated a furnace operator’s whistleblower protections. Whistleblower laws protect workers from retaliation or termination when they report unsafe working conditions.
The lawsuit accuses North Jackson of firing the operator just four days after he voiced concerns to company management about a safety device that had been disabled on one of the furnaces.
On July 15, 2012, one of North Jackson’s furnaces overheated while producing a metal alloy. The operator shutdown the facility and evacuated employees before reporting the situation to a supervisor.
The supervisor ordered the operator to restart the furnace to save the alloy, but it soon overheated again. That was when the supervisor told the operator that a safety device controlling the furnace’s temperature had been disabled.
The operator believed disabling the device was unsafe and voiced his concerns to management. He was terminated four days later.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 protects whistleblowers from retaliation if they report safety hazards or deceptive business practices. The Department of Labor is suing North Jackson for violating those protections, requesting compensation for the employee’s lost pay and benefits, punitive damages and attorney fees.
Can I Be Fired for Reporting My Boss?
Management is responsible for monitoring workplace safety, but workers still have a responsibility to report hazards. If your employer refuses to address the situation, there are laws to protect you when you seek legal help.
Larrimer & Larrimer has been protecting Ohio workers since 1929. We can help you learn more about your rights as a worker and your legal options, so discuss your workers’ comp claim with one of our licensed attorneys today.
[Did You Know: Whistleblower laws protect workers from being fired or harassed if they report safety hazards. Is your workplace up to code?]
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys