Don’t Terminate an Employee for Participating in an OSHA Inspection (Unless You Can Spare $1 Million)

on October 2, 2019

Of all the reasons to terminate an employee, “helping an OSHA inspector” may be among the least defensible. Yet that’s the reasoning a Pennsylvania employer had to justify in a recent court case. 

Unsurprisingly, the defendant lost.

The details come to us from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration news release. Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania ruled that Lloyd Industries Inc. and owner William P. Lloyd had unlawfully fired two employees for participating in an OSHA inspection. The regulatory visit was prompted by a safety incident involving amputation.

The company terminated the first employee after OSHA began its investigation, and then let the second employee go after OSHA issued its citations. 

A jury ruled against Lloyd Industries in April. In August, the Court awarded the two employees $1.04 million in lost wages and punitive damages.

Aside from the obvious lesson here—you really shouldn’t fire someone for following their occupational health and safety responsibilities under the law—there are a few more takeaways for employers:

  • Report safety incidents, fix problematic areas, and take preventative measures to minimize future risk. Had the employer in this case effectively managed workplace safety issues, the ensuing investigation, termination, lawsuit, and ruling all could have been avoided.
  • Take federal whistleblower statutes seriously. Be aware that OSHA provides protections to employees under more than 20 different provisions.

An OSHA inspection can be difficult for any employer—don’t make it even harder for yourself and your workforce. If your organization is on the regulatory radar, don’t panic. Learn how to handle OSHA visits successfully.

Download this!

EHS Checklist

Your business is subject to many operational, regulatory, and compliance risks. This checklist itemizes some of the documents, training, and procedures that are required by many state and federal agencies. Can you check all the boxes?

Download this!

EHS Checklist

Your business is subject to many operational, regulatory, and compliance risks. This checklist itemizes some of the documents, training, and procedures that are required by many state and federal agencies. Can you check all the boxes?

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Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

Toby GrahamDon’t Terminate an Employee for Participating in an OSHA Inspection (Unless You Can Spare $1 Million)

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