OSHA has ordered a Houston-based company to pay a former employee back wages and other compensation after an investigation found the employer fired a whistleblower.
The employee told a contractor working for Kinder Morgan Inc. that the company attempted to avoid complying with Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) spill reporting requirements. Kinder Morgan insisted the employee retract the statement. When the worker refused, the company fired the employee on Jan. 3, 2018.
OSHA says the employee’s actions are protected activity and the firing violated whistleblower protections.
Kinder Morgan has been ordered to:
- pay $113,040 in back wages, $30,000 in compensatory damages and $20,552 in attorney’s fees (total: $163,592)
- remove any references in the worker’s employment record to exercising whistleblower rights under PSIA
- not retaliate or discriminate against the employee
- pay interest on the back wages, and
- post a notice of OSHA’s findings in a conspicuous place in its facility.
Kinder Morgan has the right to appeal the OSHA order to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces whistleblower provisions of 21 federal statutes protecting employees who report violations of various U.S. safety and other laws.