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OSHA and whistleblower protection

Workers in New York who report illegal practices or unsafe work conditions are protected under federal law. All employers are required to provide a safe working environment, and employees can inform OSHA of any situation that could potentially lead to workers' compensation claims.

Some employees may think their job could be in jeopardy if they bring up any complaint about management's lack of safety considerations. However, the Chronicle states there are OSHA regulations that protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Under OSHA rules, an employer cannot fire the employee, discipline or demote them or cut hours or pay. In fact, if the employer does make threatening comments or harasses the employee in regard to the complaint, the worker can fill out another grievance with OSHA. However, if the employee has another valid reason, such as lackluster job performance, for letting the employee go the employee is not protected by federal law.

Protection for whistleblowers extends beyond just reporting unsafe working conditions. According to The Hill, OSHA protects workers who report about employers who violate the healthcare reform law. Some of the violations may include not allowing coverage for applicants with pre-existing conditions, denying tax credits or not offering affordable plans. Employers who are found to be in violation may face monetary fines and/or tax penalties, which may lead to retaliation against the whistleblower. 

If the employer retaliates against the complaining worker, the employee has 180 days to file a complaint with the Department of Labor. An investigation will then follow, which includes interviewing the employer, employee and other workers. 

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  • A 43 year old ironworker who fell four stories and sustained injuries to his ankle while installing a staircase settled his claim for $1,500,000.00. The accident was due to the failure of the building owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work.
  • A construction worker operating an asphalt roller settled his case for $525,000.00 when the edge of the roadway he was paving collapsed into a trench being dug by a subcontractor causing him to sustain injuries to his leg.
  • A 54 year old commuter settled his case against the NYCTA for $1,200,000.00. when he tripped and fell on a subway platform due to the pavement being in disrepair, causing him to fall forward and to strike his head on a train pulling into the station.
  • The estate of a 64 year old woman received a settlement of $425,000.00 after she was struck and killed by a speeding tractor trailer while crossing the street at the intersection of Richmond Terrace and Port Richmond Avenue.
  • A $1,200,000.00 settlement was reached on behalf of a 54 year old man from Staten Island, New York, who, while in the course of his employment as a bus driver, was rear-ended on the Garden State Parkway and caused to suffer injuries to his back and neck as well as a fractured rib and fractured pelvis.
  • A 47-year-old building superintendent who sustained injuries to his head and right side of his body due to a tripping hazard at his job site received a settlement of $300,000.00 from the electrical company performing work at the site.
  • A 43 year old construction worker was caused to sustain injuries to his back, shoulder and hand when the elevator he was riding malfunctioned and dropped 8 floors. He received $350,000.00 in the settlement of his claim against the building owner, maintenance company and elevator company.
  • The administrator of the estate of a 69 year old man who suffered stage four pressure sores while a patient at a Queens nursing home settled the case for $400,000.00 after the man died.
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Phone: 347-201-4447
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