OSHA Awards Wrongly Terminated Employee Back Pay

Back in early March, we wrote a post about a railroad company that was fined for firing employees who reported injuries that were sustained on the job. Today, we have a very similar situation to discuss, but this time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration came down even harder on the negligent employer.

Almost two years ago, an employee of Metra, a commuter rail agency in Chicago, filed a complaint saying that the company was neglecting train safety by failing to give employees enough to conduct signal checks. He reported that he did not have time during his normal 40-hour workweek to make sure train signals were working correctly. He requested to be allowed to work overtime to complete this task. Soon after filing the complaint, however, he was allowed fewer and fewer overtime hours until Metra ultimately cut his position.

OSHA investigated the situation and found that Metra officials based their decision to reduce the 22-year employee's hours on the fact that he had filed a complaint. Fortunately, the employee was re-hired, and OSHA ordered Metra to give him overtime pay of nearly $40,000.

Fortunately in this situation, the employee came out on top. Too many employers try to cut costs by giving workers more tasks than they can possibly fit into a week. When workers have to work more than 40 hours in a week or more than eight hours in a day, however, they must be fairly compensated according to federal laws. Thankfully, OSHA exists to intervene in these situations and ensure employees are treated fairly by their employers.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "OSHA: Metra owes employee in whistleblower case," Richard Wronski, April 23, 2013

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