NYC Transit Authority Retaliated Against Employee for Participating in Safety Inspection, OSHA Charges

An investigation concluded that the authority's "culture must change."

A New York Public Employees Safety and Health Bureau investigation uncovered discrimination by a New York City Transit Authority supervisor against an employee for exercising his safety rights, according to OSHA.

PESH inspectors asked about the condition of a drill press during a safety inspection at the NYCTA's Linden Shop maintenance facility in Brooklyn, and Mark Ruggerio, acting general superintendent, told them it was not working. An employee stated that the press was operating and turned it on, leading to Ruggerio threatening the employee with a loss of overtime work. PESH inspectors informed Ruggerio that his behavior appeared to be retaliatory and he needed to stop, which he did not.

"The transit authority's response to this worker's actions suggests that employee safety is not its primary concern. Threatening or retaliating against even a single employee, as happened in this case, harms all employees. It can intimidate them into silence and allow hazards to flourish undetected until they injure or sicken workers. This type of culture must change," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which the agency later determined had merit. As a result, OSHA has ordered the transit authority to pay the employee $48,000 in punitive damages, $2,500 in compensatory damages, expunge the complainant's employment records, and not retaliate against him in the future.

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