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Handle “Whistleblowers” with Respect and Attention

By October 1, 2014November 28th, 2018Employment Law

We recently learned of a case, filed by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) against North Jackson Specialty Steel in Ohio, where an employee reporting safety concerns was terminated within days of his complaint. The USDOL alleges that the company fired the employee—a furnace operator—specifically for reporting unsafe conditions after he learned that a safety device had intentionally been disabled.

When any company receives such a complaint, it should investigate the problem. It then can take positive action—e.g. fix the problem—or it can take no action. If it takes negative action, such as terminating the employee, it runs the risk of a lawsuit even if the termination is unrelated to the complaint.

Marathon HR’s employee handbook includes a description of the process by which employees can express concerns about any aspect of their job or workplace, from safety and environmental issues to harassment. It also outlines the escalation process, including direct contact with Marathon HR, for employees who believe their issues were not resolved. Such an approach helps us ensure your company and its personnel follow the law regarding employee complaints and gives your employees the reassurance that they have a voice.

We are confident that our clients want to address problems in the workplace and encourage them to investigate any reports like these quickly, which can reduce the chances of a bigger problem, later.

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