Carolina whistleblowers find protection from employer retaliation when reporting unsafe conditions

Our workers’ lawyers in Charlotte note a recent lawsuit involving a Texas crane operator who was fired after he told his employers several times that a crane lift was unsafe.

Bloomberg reports the two companies named in the suit claim he was fired for “disruptive behavior”. The plaintiff contends he was removed from his post after raising safety and health complaints. Both the Greenville, S.C. general contractor and the Louisiana outfit co-named in the suit agreed to provide a “neutral” employment reference, purge firing information from his personnel file, and repay the terminated worker back wages in the amount of $17,500.
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The U.S. Department of Labor reports that a second South Carolina company was ordered in November 2010 to pay more than $66,000 to a former employee who was terminated after approaching local management and two state agencies citing asbestos exposure. Based on his complaint an investigation revealed that his employer, a Realty firm, was in violation of asbestos control standards. The company employs 50 in jobs pertaining to various aspects of property management and maintenance.

Both North Carolina and South Carolina have enacted whistleblower protection laws for public- and private-sector workers that prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee who reports an OSHA violation or a violation to any other state or federal law, or witnesses a fraud. In both states remedies include back pay, attorney’s fees and reinstatement among a host of other restored benefits and rights.

An employee may turn to OSHA to file a whistleblower complaint if a worker believes an employer has “retaliated” against them after raising concerns regarding the following:
~ Workplace safety and health.
~ Public transportation agency security.
~ Asbestos in schools.
~ Corporate fraud and SEC regulations.
~ The environment.
~ Nuclear safety.
~ Commercial motor vehicle, railroad, air or pipeline carriers.

With that said, at least one University of North Carolina local government law blogger suggests ensuring a worker is protected under the state’s whistleblower protection act is more challenging than the letter of the law dictates.

For Carolina workers stricken with a work-related illness or injury, ourworkers’ compensation attorneys in Charlotte, Spartanburg and Asheville know that recovery and adjustment can be a lifelong battle. If you have been injured, or someone you love has been injured or succumbed to a work-related illness anywhere across the Carolinas, call us at 1-800-887-1965 or contact our law offices online to discuss your rights.

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