OSHA Whistleblower Investigation Finds Window Factory Retaliated Against Worker

The employee raised concerns verbally and in a letter about vehicle defects, including broken side-view mirrors, a driver's door that couldn't be opened properly, a broken window handle, and a deficient steering mechanism.

OSHA has ordered Newark, N.J.-based Jersey Window Factory & Building Supply Inc. to reinstate a truck driver who was fired after reporting safety concerns about the commercial vehicle he was driving.

An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause that the termination violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. OSHA has ordered the company to pay the former worker back wages and bonuses that cover the period from July 2008 until a bona fide offer of reinstatement is made. The company also has been ordered to pay $18,000 in compensatory damages.

The employee raised concerns verbally and in a letter about vehicle defects, including broken side-view mirrors, a driver's door that couldn't be opened properly, a broken window handle, and a deficient steering mechanism. After submitting a second letter, which outlined further safety concerns and questioned whether the company's safety practices were in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, the employee's hours were reduced. The employee subsequently filed an OSHA safety complaint and was terminated on July 2, 2008.

Both parties to the case have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.

"Workers have the right to voice safety concerns without fear of retaliation or termination," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Employers found in violation of whistleblower protection provisions will be held accountable."

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