An employee of S.E.M. Terrace, a retirement home in Milford, was retaliated against by the operator of the home after complaining about a bedbug infestation.
According to court records, the employee was fired after filing a complaint with the local health department after efforts to fight a rampant bedbug infestation in the S.E.M. Terrace community had proved ineffective. The employee, who was acting as resident manager for the facility, was reprimanded and later fired for his actions.
The employee later brought suit against the employer, claiming a violation of the whistleblower provisions contained in the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. There was a compromise settlement agreement that was entered in to by the parties in which S.E.M. Terrace did not admit the employee’s allegations, but rather settled to avoid the expense and risks of litigation.
A spokesperson for OSHA says the case is a clear example of companies penalizing workers for speaking out about health and safety problems at work, something the law was designed specifically to prevent. OSHA said that no worker should ever have to fear losing his or her job for speaking out about health and safety violations.
The OSHA spokesperson said that federal whistleblower laws protect employees who report violations across a wide array of industries, including commercial motor carriers, airlines, food safety, consumer products and railroads. Employers in these and other industries are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns. Any employee who believes he or she may have been retaliated against for engaging in lawful conduct is empowered to file a complaint against their employer under OSHA’s whistleblower protection program.
Determining whether a person meets the qualifications to file a whistleblower claim for retaliation can be confusing and often requires the advice of an experienced whistleblower attorney. It’s essential that if you think you might qualify you consult with someone who can fully inform you of your rights and obligations under the law. These claims can be complicated and the sooner you reach out for help the better off you’ll be.