OSHA Sues Charter School for Firing Worker who Complained about Safety Hazards

On June 20, 2009, the employee submitted a letter to his direct supervisor that addressed alleged safety hazards, specifically, improperly placed extension cords and a lack of sprinkler systems.

OSHA has sued Renaissance Arts and Education Inc., doing business as Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Fla., to reinstate a former employee with full back wages and benefits. The lawsuit results from an OSHA investigation that found the privately run charter school had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker's employment for voicing and reporting concerns regarding hazards in the school's two theaters—activities that are protected by the whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"Employees who identify safety and health concerns in the workplace are protected by the law, and when these rights are violated, OSHA will take action," said Cindy Coe, the agency's regional administrator in Atlanta. "We will not tolerate disregard for employees' safety and health or the violation of whistleblower protections."

On June 20, 2009, the employee submitted a letter to his direct supervisor that addressed alleged safety hazards, specifically, improperly placed extension cords and a lack of sprinkler systems. The school did not respond to the letter. On July 14, the employee filed a complaint with OSHA reporting the same concerns. After OSHA communicated with the school, on July 30, the employee disputed the school's response to the safety complaint, and the employee was notified that his position was being terminated. On Aug. 4, OSHA performed a safety inspection and cited the school for safety violations related to the employee's expressed concerns.

The Labor Department's suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, asks for an order that includes a permanent injunction against the school to prevent future violations of the OSH Act. It also seeks the reinstatement of the former employee with full benefits; payment of back wages, punitive damages, and compensatory damages; removal of references to the matters at issue in this case from the employee's personnel file; and any other appropriate relief. The Labor Department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta is representing OSHA in court.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Best Practices to Navigate ISO 45001

    Learn helpful tips and tricks to navigate your transition to ISO 45001 certification and ensure an effective health and safety management system.

  • Improve Your Safety Culture

    Learn the 3 fundamental areas to focus on to achieve safety culture excellence and what you can do to boost employee engagement in your EHS programs.

  • Chemical Safety: 5 Questions Answered by Experts

    Get answers to 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to effectively mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your chemical data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management technology program.

  • How Has COVID-19 Changed Safety Culture?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for health and safety professionals to rethink how they manage risk and develop stronger safety cultures. Read this eBook to learn actionable steps you can implement today to improve your programs.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING: SOFTWARE
      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
    • HAND PROTECTION
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue