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USPS to pay damages to whistleblower

Wisconsin readers who follow workplace issues may be interested in a recent decision regarding retaliation against a whistleblower. A U.S. Postal Service worker will receive nearly $230,000 in damages for retaliation that he suffered after advising a co-worker to report health concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The worker filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA after being subjected to a hostile work environment.

According to the complaint and subsequent investigation, the worker had been refused a promotion, publicly humiliated, demoted and made to work in an unheated storage room. A federal judge heard the case over the course of a five-day bench trial. The judge found that the worker had been retaliated against and that he was entitled to protection under a federal act that prohibits retaliation against employees by their managers. In addition to damages, the worker must be promoted to an equivalent pay rate to what he would have earned had he received the promotion that he had been denied.

Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under several federal laws. The intention is to improve workplace safety by encouraging workers to step forward with observations and concerns without fear of losing their jobs or suffering from a hostile work environment. In addition to possibly receiving compensation for retaliation, individuals who bring lawsuits against employers for either unsafe work conditions or retaliation help to raise awareness of the issue and create safer working environments for their fellow workers.

A lawyer with a background in workplace disputes and whistleblower representation may assess a worker's case to determine whether retaliation occurred and damages might be warranted. The lawyer can then determine the procedural steps to be followed.

Source: FOX Business, "Judge orders $230,000 in damages for US Postal Service whistleblower who suffered retaliation", Associated Press, Feb. 26, 2015

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