Employees in Michigan have specific permissions to bring up unsafe business practices and other dangers to the attention of managers and contractors. Although companies may not always want to deal with the consequences of their poor practices, no one should have to pay unduly for bringing it to people’s attention.
A school district in the Wolverine State was recently ordered to reinstate an employee and pay more than $100,000 in back pay. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered the district to make up for unfairly disciplining and publicly humiliating the employee for reporting unsafe conditions in their properties.
This move came after federal investigators cited the district for violating the Clean Air Act. The employee in question reported the danger of exposing students to asbestos as early as 2012 and also reported the dangers of pesticide in school in 2016.
Despite these dangers, the district dismissed the employee and disputed these reports in public media. Authorities also maintained public information online that held their facilities were safe. Some workers apparently failed to receive the proper training to remove and contain asbestos.
OSHA already took the district to task for the discovery of asbestos. An administrative law judge ordered them to pay a former janitor more than $200,000 in back pay and damages after his dismissal.
Potential whistleblowers should always check their own career security by checking with an attorney about the consequences of their moves. A lawyer can help protect people making the right decision to protect themselves and their co-workers by making sure they do not suffer under retaliation.