Idaho employer ordered to pay $100K for retaliating against employee who reported safety concerns to OSHA

US Labor Department filed lawsuit after worker fired

Posted October 12, 2015

An employee will receive $100,000 in punitive damages from the owner of a Sandpoint, Idaho, oil change facility who fired the worker for reporting safety violations, disregarding the whistleblower provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

A federal judge upheld the findings on Sept. 29 of an investigation by OSHA. Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho cited the owner of the facility for his “reprehensible” conduct. Calling it a clear case of intentional retaliation, Winmill also ordered the owner and his company to pay $979 in damages and interest to compensate the employee for his lost wages.

The court also issued a permanent injunction barring the owner and his business from retaliating against employees who report safety problems in the future, told him to post a copy of the order at the business, and to notify employees on how to contact OSHA if he violates the injunction.

OSHA investigated the mechanic’s complaint, and cited the employer for safety and health violations in 2012. Upon receipt of the citations and proposed penalties, the employer fired the employee. The department determined in September 2014 that the owner had wrongfully fired the worker for filing a safety complaint with the agency’s Boise Area Office.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 21 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor carrier, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation agency, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, railroad, maritime, health care reform, food safety, securities and financial reform laws.

For more information see:

J. J. Keller® Supervisor Safety AlertThe J. J. Keller® Supervisor Safety Alert addresses safety-related issues affecting supervisors and their employees.


J. J. Keller's FREE Workplace SafetyClicks™ email newsletter brings quick-read workplace safety and compliance news right to your email box.

Sign up to receive Workplace SafetyClicks™.