Video from Digital 2000
The best way to convince OSHA that an employee was fired with cause, rather than for being a whistleblower, is to maintain a comprehensive system of documentation.
Arthur G. Sapper and William Friedman, EHS Today
You fear that before he is fired, Clarence will get wind of what is happening and, in an attempt to make himself “bullet proof,” file a safety complaint with the safety enforcement branch of OSHA. Firing Clarence then would become much more difficult, as he could complain to the “whistleblower” branch of OSHA that he was discriminated against for being a whistleblower, in violation of section 11(c) of the OSH Act.
See Also: Occupational Health Safety Standards & Regulations
You fear that a misstep could cause your company to spend time and money convincing an OSHA discrimination investigator that Clarence was fired for being a bad employee, not for filing a safety complaint. Worse, if you lose a discrimination case, you might be required to pay back wages, reimburse expenses for attorney’s and expert’s fees, reinstate the employee and even pay punitive damages. You also may be the subject of a nasty press release, a legally questionable practice OSHA openly calls “regulation by shaming.”
Examples of such press releases can be found on OSHA’s Web site, http://www.OSHA.gov. Click on “Newsroom” to view the agency’s press releases.
If an Employee Files a Complaint
If Clarence does file a safety complaint before you can fire him, an OSHA discrimination investigator may contact you to determine whether you discriminated against Clarence. The investigator will want to know how you dealt with Clarence, what your reasoning was for firing him and whether Clarence was singled out among your employees. How will you show the OSHA investigator that Clarence’s termination was unrelated to his safety complaint?
You can recount the conversation you had with the superintendent when you decided to fire Clarence. You can get the superintendent to corroborate your story. You can even have a supervisor attest that Clarence did poor work, with a bad attitude, and violated loads of safety rules. But this evidence creates a he-said/she-said problem, which easily can start you down the path to protracted investigation and even a formal 11(c) discrimination complaint.
A better way to convince the OSHA investigator that you are not discriminating against whistleblowers is to maintain a comprehensive system of documentation. All disciplinary events should be documented in writing and filed in a retrievable manner. Even so-called oral reprimands should be memorialized (making them oral in name only). A documented trail of employee discipline will show the OSHA investigator that your reasons for firing Clarence were genuine and are not related to his safety complaint.
Read the remainder of the article here:
Source EHS Today®
Please Share With Others!
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)