The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service, alleging that a former Seattle Processing and Distribution Center postal employee was discharged in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970.
According to the court documents:
On or about January 21, 2008, the postal employee made a health complaint to her supervisor that she was suffering from a severe allergic reaction due to her work on a particular piece of machinery. In response to her complaint, the postal employee’s manager sent her to another part of the processing center. No official report of her complaint was made until more than three months later. On February 7, 2008, the postal employee told her supervisor she would no longer work on the piece of machinery she believed caused her allergic reaction. Defendant continued to schedule the postal employee to work on the machinery even though there were other places in the facility that she could work and there were other employees available to work on the machinery. On February 20, 2008, the postal employee discussed her health concerns with a union steward and another regular employee; the two regular employees directed her to a designated postal safety officer, who gave her contact information for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in order to report her health concerns. The fact that she received this information was reported to Defendant on the same day. On or about February 22, 2008, Defendant ceased scheduling the postal employee for hours of work. On February 25, 2008, the postal employee filed a health complaint with OSHA. On February 28, 2008, the postal employee filed a complaint alleging a violation of § 11(c) with OSHA.
Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits discharge or other discrimination against an employee for reporting a work-related fatality, injury or illness. It also prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a safety or health complaint, or for exercising a wide range of other rights afforded to them by the act.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the complaint seeks to reinstate the employee and to secure back pay, interest, punitive damages, other relief and an order permanently enjoining the U.S. Postal Service from violating the anti-discrimination provisions of the OSH Act.