A case out of Huntsville, Alabama reminds people here in Indiana that wrongful termination can happen anywhere but also shows that you have the right to fight back against an employer who you feel has violated your employment rights.
An Alabama man filed a complaint with the Department of Labor about what he felt was a clear violation of OSHA regulations. According to a statement he gave to the agency, he was directed to work in trenches between six and fifteen feet deep at a jobsite back in January. In his statement, he described an incident in which one of the 15-foot trench walls began to cave in, breaking the ladder used to get in and out of the trench. His employer allegedly told him “to get in the hole or go home,” but since he feared further cave-ins he refused and was immediately fired.
An investigation conducted by OSHA indicated several safety issues with the job site which included unsafe working conditions as well as various personal protective equipment violations. OSHA investigators concluded the man had indeed been wrongfully dismissed and that “the company intentionally fired the worker for reporting or refusing to work in unsafe conditions.”
Recently this month, the Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against the man’s former employer for terminating employment in retaliation to the employee’s refusal to work in unsafe conditions. The agency is seeking back wages, interest and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the man. They are also requesting that this matter be expunged from his employment record as well.
Source: Alabama’s 13 News, “US Dept. of Labor sues Huntsville company over employee termination,” Amber Roberson, Dec. 10, 2012