A demolition company based in Albany was recently ordered to pay out a six-figure judgment to a former worker. The company had let go of the employee after he had reported improper asbestos removal practices, which per the court, was a violation of his “whistleblower” rights.
The man noticed the hazardous asbestos removal while working at a jobsite at a high school. After reporting the safety risk to his company’s management, they fired him the very next day.
The worker filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) who then began a whistleblower investigation. After looking into the case, the agency found the man’s allegations to be credible. The U.S. Department of Labor later brought suit against the company.
A U.S. district judge issued a ruling that supported the lawsuit, citing that the company had indeed contravened the employee’s whistleblower rights. For their transgressions, the judge ordered that the company must pay the man $103,793 in lost wages, $50,000 in punitive damages and $20,000 in compensatory damages.
Issuing a statement, an OSHA representative voiced his satisfaction with the result on the basis that it held the employer accountable. He also added, “Every worker has the right to report potential safety and health hazards without fear of harassment, termination or retaliation.”
This case serves as a reminder that whistleblowers do have rights. If someone feels as though their firing was unjust, and it was the consequence of voicing legitimate concerns, there may be legal options available to them.