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Tue Oct 13, 2020, 06:57 AM

OSHA closes more than half of workers' coronavirus retaliation complaints without investigating

Road to Recovery

Labor agency closes more than half of workers’ coronavirus retaliation complaints without investigating

By Eli Rosenberg
Oct. 8, 2020 at 1:07 p.m. EDT

The federal agency charged with upholding workplace safety has dismissed more than half of the complaints from workers who say they were retaliated against for raising coronavirus safety concerns, according to a new report. ... Data given to The Washington Post on Thursday showed that through the beginning of August, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had opened up investigations for 348 of 1,744 complaints from workers who said their companies retaliated against them during the pandemic. Fifty-four percent of the complaints were dismissed or closed without investigation, according to the report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy group. And just 2 percent of the total were investigated and resolved.

Advocates and former OSHA officials say the agency’s lack of response to retaliation complaints is just the latest example of it favoring companies over the workers it is tasked with safeguarding. Plus, they say, the stakes are much higher in the middle of a pandemic that has made so many workplaces more dangerous. ... “This is just one more piece of evidence that OSHA is refusing to step up activities in the face of a pandemic which has killed so many workers,” said David Michaels, who ran OSHA under President Barack Obama and now is a public health professor at George Washington University. “It can no longer be business as usual where OSHA is not making the efforts needed to make sure workers are safe in the face of this terrible pandemic. Protecting the voice of workers should be an important component of that effort.”

In a statement, OSHA said it is fielding and investigating every complaint. ... “OSHA is committed to conducting whistleblower investigations in a timely and efficient manner,” the statement said. “Those related to covid-19 have been consistent with previous investigations, which traditionally are closed within nine months. On average, about 65 to 70 percent of all whistleblower complaints are closed by OSHA for legal reasons. Those related to covid-19 have been consistent with this average.”

Complaints about firings and other types of retaliation against workers have made for a consistent drumbeat during the pandemic, particularly in front-line industries such as health care, warehousing and restaurants. ... The Occupational Safety and Health Act, which OSHA was created to enforce, gives workers the legal right to a safe workplace. That law also prohibits retaliating against workers for raising safety concerns. ... Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt have said that they take retaliation seriously. ... But the data suggests otherwise, according to the report’s authors, Debbie Berkowitz, a senior OSHA official in the Obama administration who is now director of the NELP Worker Health and Safety Program, and Shayla Thompson, government-affairs manager with the group. ... “Resolving a mere two percent of OSHA retaliation complaints in six months is a dismal record under any circumstances,” they wrote. “It undermines workers’ confidence that they’ll be protected when reporting unsafe working conditions. But it is especially egregious during a pandemic.”

{snip}

Eli Rosenberg
Eli Rosenberg covers work and labor for The Washington Post. He joined The Post in 2017 after a decade in New York, where he worked at the New York Times, the Daily News, and the Brooklyn Paper. He has covered misinformation campaigns, politics in the Trump era, immigration issues, and disasters across the country. Follow https://twitter.com/emrosenberg

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Reply OSHA closes more than half of workers' coronavirus retaliation complaints without investigating (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 13 OP
Fullduplexxx Oct 13 #1
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 13 #2
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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Oct 13, 2020, 07:28 AM

1. Corporate whore scalia takes complaints against corporate american very seriously

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Oct 13, 2020, 12:43 PM

2. Scalia Defends Views On Workplace Safety

Washington Post, Wednesday, October 3, 2001, page A2

Scalia Defends Views On Workplace Safety

Eugene Scalia, President Bush's nominee as the Labor Department's top lawyer, defended his opposition to workplace safety regulations at a Senate confirmation hearing yesterday. ... "For a lawyer to shade or slant his legal advice to advance a private agenda is among the gravest betrayals of his solemn duty as an attorney," said Scalia, a Washintton labor lawyer and son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Democrats on the Health, Educaion, Labor and Pensions Committee appeared to be solidly against Scalia, who had criticized ergonomics and Clinton-era regulations as "quackery" and "junk science." ... The vote that will probably determine whether Democrats can block Scalia's nomination from the Senate floor is that of Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.). A spokesman said Jeffords supports Scalia's nomination.

Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Scalia's "views are outside the mainstream on many issues of vital importance to the nation's workers and their families." ... Scalia said he thinks ergonomics-related injuries do exist, and that his criticism was aimed at the specific regulation, which he thought went too far. He said scientific evidence supporting it did not satisfy the Supreme Court's legal "junk science" test.

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