A Texas luxury car dealership was ordered to pay $15,000 to a whistleblower who was fired in 2020 after raising COVID-19 safety concerns.
The whistleblower was fired when they warned co-workers that another employee had tested positive for COVID-19.
OSHA obtained a consent judgment on March 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, that requires Hi Tech Imports LLC – operating as Porsche Austin – to pay the employee $15,000 in compensatory damages.
Hi Tech was also forbidden by the court to discriminate against their employees when they exercise their right to raise workplace safety concerns.
Management refused to warn workers of exposure risk
OSHA filed a lawsuit in October 2021 after an investigation found that Hi Tech illegally retaliated against the employee when it fired them in December 2020, in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Investigators discovered that the whistleblower had alerted management about the co-worker who tested positive for COVID-19 and requested that the company notify other employees of potential exposure.
When Hi Tech failed to act, the whistleblower emailed all company employees about the potential hazards. Less than an hour later, the whistleblower’s employment was terminated.
On July 26, 2022, OSHA and the National Labor Relations Board negotiated an agreement with Hi Tech and the whistleblower requiring the company to pay $116,231 in back wages. The company was also required to re-instate the employee to their previous position.