The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a dentist in Maine for punishing whistleblowers that raised concerns about working conditions in the office, according to OHSOnline.com. Dental hygienists at Dr. Tammy L. Cook’s office filed an OSHA complaint alleging hazardous working conditions in the office.
The hygienists complained to OSHA regarding infection prevention procedures in the office. Dr. Cook placed one of the hygienists on administrative leave until she resigned and terminated the other. OSHA stepped in and required Dr. Cook to pay one of the hygienists $38,000 and the other $34,000 in damages and back pay.
“This judgment upholds the clear legal right under the Occupational Safety and Health Act for employees to raise workplace safety and health concerns to their employer without fear of termination or other forms of reprisal,” says OSHA’s Michael Felsen. “It also reinforces the department’s commitment to taking all appropriate legal action, including a lawsuit, to protect that right.”
OSHA did a great job here of enforcing whistleblower protection laws. Hopefully the fine will send a message to Dr. Cook and other employers as well.
“Employers must remember that workers have a voice in the workplace regarding their health and well-being,” said OSHA regional administrator Mathe Kent. “Firing or forcing employees for their jobs for raising legitimate safety and health issues is unacceptable.”
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Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles whistleblower protection lawyers.