Worker faced hostile retaliation

A U.S. District Court has upheld OSHA's 2008 finding that the United States Postal Service violated worker protections under the OSH Act by retaliating against one of its safety specialists for assisting a coworker on a health and safety concern and for filing his own whistleblower complaints alleging retaliation and harassment. The court found that the employee is entitled to $229,228 in damages.

Soon after helping his coworker report unhealthful workplace conditions, the safety specialist found himself in an increasingly hostile work environment. In a matter of months, he was transferred to another office, forced to work in an unheated storage room, demoted, restricted in his movements, publicly humiliated, and subjected to four openly antagonistic interviews as part of workplace investigations. He was also issued a disciplinary letter and refused a promotion.

In April 2008, he filed his first whistleblower complaint with OSHA in Seattle. Several more complaints would follow as hostilities increased.

In addition to providing damages, the court ruling also requires the Postal Service to promote the employee to the same pay rate he would have now, had he not been denied a promotion. The judge also enjoined the Seattle-area Postal Service from discriminating against employees who complain to or cooperate with OSHA, and from failing to take action against managers who interfere with employees exercising their rights under the OSH Act.