A New York ophthalmologist is in hot water with OSHA after allegedly retaliating against an employee who had COVID-19 concerns.
David Kwiat and his practice, Kwiat Eye and Laser Surgery, were accused by OSHA of firing an employee who raised concerns about the practice’s failure to follow state COVID-19 requirements.
The employee eventually filed complaints with state health officials.
Reason for termination: Contact with state health officials
OSHA claims that between March and December 2020, the employee brought concerns over a lack of mask wearing and social distancing at the practice to their supervisor.
Eventually, the employee went to the New York State Department of Health about the practice’s failure to follow COVID-19 protocols.
OSHA’s whistleblower investigation found the employee was fired the same day the health department contacted Kwiat.
Further, Kwiat specifically cited the employee’s contact with the health department as the reason for termination.
OSHA’s lawsuit asks the court to force Kwiat and his practice to:
- pay damages to the employee for all lost wages and benefits resulting from the termination
- offer to reinstate the employee to their previous position or provide appropriate front pay in lieu of reinstatement
- reimburse the employee for any costs, expenses and other losses along with compensation for emotional distress
- pay punitive damages to the employee, and
- prominently post a notice for employees stating the practice will not discharge or discriminate against any employees for engaging in protected whistleblower activities.