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Sterling Employment Law

Michigan nuclear plant ignoring employee rights

Ensuring workplace safety is one of the primary responsibilities of any Michigan employer. When safety standards are compromised, the possibility of workplace injuries and illnesses increase dramatically. When safety concerns are raised by employees, they often face retaliation from employers, which may, at times, even lead to job loss. This is a clear violation of employee rights, according to Michigan state law, as well as federal employment laws.

Recently, former employees of the Palisades nuclear plant in South Haven, Michigan, accused plant management of not addressing repeated employee safety concerns and lying to regulators about its efforts to maintain a safe workplace. Interestingly, regulators, who were reviewing the performance of the Palisades nuclear facility, found that an employee survey indicated security officers at the nuclear plant feared employer retaliation, if they expressed their concerns regarding certain issues.

A senior Palisade official stated management had prepared a plan to tackle the issue. Nonetheless, during an open session, a former plant employee said that although management had promised to resolve safety issues at the plant, no major changes had taken place. Another former employee said that she was fired for continually raising concerns over long work-hours and other safety-related issues. A third employee, who worked for the company for decades said that he and other colleagues had raised a number of safety concerns over the past few years, and none of those concerns had been addressed by management.

Some workplaces, such as nuclear plants, are inherently dangerous. Employers need to ensure that no employee is harmed while on company premises. Any negligence in maintaining safety is not only a serious violation of workplace safety guidelines, but is also a violation employee rights per federal and state employment guidelines. If any Detroit employee has been subjected to retaliation for raising concerns about workplace safety, it is his or her right to demand remedial action from competent authorities.

Source: Michigan Radio, "Former Palisades workers claim retaliation for raising concerns," Lindsey Smith, June 27, 2014

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