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OSHA whistleblower nets more than $1M for firing

A California man is receiving a $820,000 payout from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after he was illegally reprimanded for being a whistleblower. The man was reportedly fired after two years of administrative leave that he was prohibited from working.

In all, the U.S. Department of Labor will have paid more than $1 million, when wages and back pay are included from the two-year administrative leave. The organization is said to have put the man on leave because they could not figure out how to handle the man's intimidating and forceful attitude.

The man's treatment by his federal employers raises important questions about employee rights in the government workplace. Specifically, more employees are asking whether they can trust their federal government bosses to treat them fairly throughout their tenure. Increasingly, the answer to that question appears to be a resounding, "No."

Authorities report the man had told an Oakland Tribune reporter that one company's injury rates appeared to have been fabricated. After that comment, the man was allegedly targeted by his supervisors. The man had begun making public statements about supposed OSHA shortcomings, including failures to adequately inspect records for injury rates so low they seemed fraudulent. The man's situation became violent after he argued with his supervisor in 2007; the men are accused of spitting on each other.

As a result, the organization hired an "independent" investigator who actually helped OSHA build a case against the illegally terminated employee. Email messages show the investigator was in cahoots with OSHA, with both parties expressing the desire to silence the whistleblower.

The courts ruled in the favor of the employee who had been wronged, awarding damages to compensate him for his treatment at the federal agency. If you are a federal employee who has been the target of whistleblower discrimination, consider seeking assistance from a qualified employment attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal options and rights.

Source:  articles.washingtonpost.com, "Court indicates Labor went after employee for whistleblowing activities" Joe Davidson, Jun. 12, 2013

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