An employee claimed he faced retaliation because he told a co-worker how to contact OSHA with a safety complaint. Now a judge has ordered his employer to pay $229,228 in damages.
The employee, identified in court documents as Arthur Williams, started working for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier in 1995. He worked his way up and eventually became a Postal Service occupational safety and health technical advisor. He provided safety advice at more than 300 postal facilities throughout Washington state.
Seven years ago, he advised a co-worker to call OSHA about her workplace concerns.
The safety specialist claimed that, soon after, he was:
- subjected to an increasingly hostile work environment
- transferred to another office
- forced to work in an unheated storage room
- demoted, and
- subjected to four openly antagonistic interviews as part of workplace investigations.
He filed his first whistleblower complaint in April 2008, and several more followed.
OSHA found the worker’s complaints were valid, and recently a federal judge agreed with the agency’s findings.
The court found the employee is entitled to financial damages. The ruling also requires the Postal Service to increase the worker’s pay rate to the amount he would have now if he hadn’t been denied a promotion.
The Postal Service says it’s disappointed in the ruling and disagrees with the conclusions. It says it’s “reviewing the decision for possible post-judgment relief and/or appeal.”
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits managers from retaliating against an employee who gives another employee OSHA’s telephone number.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 federal statutes which protect employees who report violations of various laws.