OSHA seems to be sending a message to employers via two recent whistleblower orders: When employees raise safety concerns, listen.
In the first case, OSHA has ordered Southern Air, Inc., of Norwalk, CT, to pay nine former employees more than $7.9 million in wages, damages and legal fees. The air cargo carrier must also withdraw a lawsuit against the former workers.
After some of the workers raised safety concerns about the company, Southern Air filed a defamation lawsuit against them.
An OSHA investigation found the company’s lawsuit was filed in retaliation against the workers.
Southern must pay the employees $6.0 million in lost future earnings, $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $129,000 in legal fees.
In the second case, announced just three days later, OSHA ordered United Parcel Service (UPS) to immediately rehire, pay back wages, benefits, compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages to a former San Francisco-area driver.
OSHA says the driver was wrongfully terminated after he refused to drive after raising safety concerns because of bad weather and visibility issues.