Safety and OSHA News

OSHA: Not calling part-timer for work amounts to whistleblower retaliation

OSHA is seeking a court order against a company, saying it discriminated against a worker for filing a safety complaint with the federal agency. 

Stanley Radeski was a part-time, on-call field technician for Environmental Management Specialists Inc. (EMS), based at its Steubenville, OH, office.

According to OSHA, in April 2014, Radeski observed hazards at an EMS worksite where employees were cleaning a tank:

  • Employees were left working in the tank while the relief attendant went to smoke
  • Escape respirators weren’t provided
  • Employees weren’t medically evaluated for fitness for use of respiratory protection, and
  • Confined space permits weren’t used to record the information required by OSHA.

Less than a week later, Radeski filed a complaint with OSHA. OSHA notified James Gress, VP of EMS, of the alleged safety hazards and gave the company five business days to correct them.

Gress talked to Radeski, who told him he observed a supervisor step away from his post as a watch for a confined space entrant to smoke. Gress interviewed the other 13 employees at the worksite. No one, except Radeski, said anything about a supervisor leaving his watch to smoke.

Between May 7, 2014, and February 2015, Radeski was only called to work once by EMS. Radeski filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that EMS discriminated against him by effectively firing him for calling OSHA to make a safety complaint.

DOL investigated and found as a result of making his safety complaint, EMS discriminated against Radeski by terminating him – it failed to call him for work for several months, with one exception, despite his availability to work.

OSHA has filed a request with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, to order EMS to:

  • Reinstate Radeski
  • Pay him lost wages and benefits, including interest
  • Remove the disciplinary action from his record, and
  • Post a notice for employees stating that EMS won’t discriminate against employees if they engage in protected activities such as reporting a safety concern to OSHA.

(Secretary of Labor v. Environmental Management Specialists Inc., U.S. Dist. Crt. S.D. Ohio, No. 2:17-cv-821, 9/15/17)

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