The importance of workplace safety can never be overstated, especially when it comes to those workers trying to speak out about unsafe conditions.
As part of an enterprise wide settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, True North Hotel Group Inc., a hotel management company based in Overland Park, Kan., will pay $22,225 in back wages and compensatory damages to a former employee who was terminated from a Massachusetts location after raising workplace safety concerns. The company will also educate all its managers and notify its employees nationwide about workers’ whistleblower rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act as administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
As the story goes, a worker at True North’s Devens Conference Center in Massachusetts was subjected to disciplinary action and then terminated in October 2011 after notifying superiors about safety concerns.
The worker then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to the complaint. True North has elected to settle the matter by taking corrective action.
‘Employees Have Right to Raise Concerns’
“Employers must understand that every employee has the right to raise workplace safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation or termination,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator. “When employees are fearful or reluctant to raise these issues with their employers, hazardous conditions could go undetected until employees are injured or sickened.”
According to Kent, in agreeing to a company wide settlement, True North is pledging to address this issue across the board, ensuring that all its employees are aware they have a voice regarding safety and health at each workplace.
Specifically, True North will immediately post the whistleblower fact sheet and OSHA poster, in English and Spanish, in conspicuous locations at all of its work premises nationwide, where they can be seen and read by all employees. It will also provide annual training on whistleblower rights and employer responsibilities to all managers and supervisors and provide training materials to all newly hired or promoted managers.
In addition to paying the back wages and compensatory damages to the former employee, True North will expunge all references to disciplinary action and termination from his personnel file and provide a written, neutral job reference, should any prospective employer seek a reference for the worker.
True North Hotel Group Inc. is a company that develops and manages hotels in Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Virginia.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.