House of Hounds Ordered to Pay $50,000 in Damages Following Whistleblower Retaliation

House of Hounds Ordered to Pay $50,000 in Damages Following Whistleblower Retaliation

The company’s former owner allegedly dismissed the employees after COVID-19 concerns.

Boise, Idaho-based dog daycare facility House of Hounds LLC and its former owner, Kayla Martin, have been ordered to pay $50,000 in damages to two former employees, as directed by a federal court, after they were dismissed for voicing concerns about COVID-19 safety measures.

The consent judgment follows an OSHA investigation, prompted by the employees filing a whistleblower complaint. They alleged Martin terminated their employment because of their concerns about potential exposure to COVID-19 from a colleague awaiting test results. Now Martin and House of Hounds will pay each employee $25,000 in general and punitive damages.

“Our team works diligently to ensure the voices of employees who exercise their right to report alleged unsafe working conditions are heard,” OSHA Regional Administrator Dorinda Hughes in Seattle said in a statement. “This outcome serves as a reminder that retaliating against a worker who reports a safety and health concern will not be tolerated.”

The case revealed that Martin instructed the employees to complete their tasks and then leave the premises. Following this, their access to the company’s social media platform was revoked, and they were excluded from the revised weekly work schedule, indicative of their termination. When they filed for unemployment insurance, House of Hounds contested their claims, erroneously asserting to the State of Idaho Department of Labor that the employees had quit.

In addition to the monetary penalty, the court has ordered House of Hounds and Martin—who has since sold the company—to offer a neutral employment recommendation and erase any mention of the incident from the employees’ records. They are also mandated to extend a public apology via social media. The company must now provide OSHA-approved management and supervisory training and notify new as well as some former employees of their rights.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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