Department of Labor sues U.S. Post Office

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Mar 2, 2012

SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Department of Labor is suing the U.S. Postal Service for discrimination and retaliation.

An employee who wanted to file a safety complaint with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration received information from a safety specialist who was subsequently disciplined by the Post Office.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It was the result of an inquiry made by OSHA that determined that the Postal Service had violated the whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"An employee's right to report unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions must be protected to ensure that workers are not injured or sickened on the job," said Dean Ikeda, OSHA's regional administrator in Seattle. "Hostility and retaliation against whistleblowers are simply unacceptable."

OSHA discovered the Postal Service initiated a series of adverse actions against the specialist after learning he had assisted the other employee in filing the complaint alleging unhealthful conditions at the facility. OSHA also verified claims the Postal Service reassigned many of the specialist's duties to an individual with a lower pay grade and did not promote him because of his actions.

The Labor Department is requesting a permanent injunction against the Postal Service to prevent future violations. They are also asking for monetary relief for the specialist, including the payment of lost wages and benefits, plus compensatory damages for emotional distress.

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