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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

OSHA seeks damages for wrongly terminated employee who made safety complaint

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho against Sandpoint Gas 'n' Go & Lube Center Inc., in Sandpoint, Idaho, and its owner Sydney M. Oskoui, individually, for violating the whistleblower protection provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The investigation determined that Sandpoint and its owner terminated a mechanic for raising safety and health concerns in the workplace.
OSHA investigated a complaint filed by the work and cited the employer for safety and health violations. Upon receipt of the citations and proposed penalties, the employer fired the employee. The department determined that the employee was fired for filing a safety complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Boise Area Office.
"We are committed to protecting workers' rights to raise work-related safety and health concerns without fear of losing his or her job," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Seattle. "We will not tolerate the reprehensible behavior exhibited by Sandpoint in this case."
The employer is expected to pay to the fired employee back wages with interest, benefits and punitive damages. The suit also requests an order from the court permanently enjoining Sandpoint and its owner from violating the anti-retaliation provisions of the OSH Act and requires that a notice be posted for employees regarding their rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 21 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor carrier, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation agency, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, railroad, maritime, health care reform, food safety, securities and financial reform laws. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets with information on how to file a complaint with OSHA, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
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Perez v. Sandpoint Gas 'n' Go & Lube Center Inc. and Sydney M. Oskoui, individually
Civil Action Number: 2:14-cv-00357-BLW