While not occurring in Pennsylvania, the actions of the U.S. Department of Labor against Southwestern Bell should resonate in every jurisdiction. It is claimed that Southwestern Bell took disciplinary actions against four workers who reported workplace injuries. The injuries occurred in two jurisdictions back in 2011 and 2012.
“It is against the law for employers to discipline employees for reporting injuries,” stated one Occupational Safety and Health Administration official. This official went on to say that discouraging workers from reporting injuries will only increase the likelihood of more injures occurring in the future.
The workers were disciplined and were subjected to unsatisfactory performance appraisals. Though the company attempted claim that the discipline was due to violations of corporate workplace safety standards by the employees, OSHA determined that the discipline was actually due to the workers reporting that they were injured.
In one instance a worker injured his knee after stepping into a depression during snowy weather. The company ruled that the worker was at fault. Another employee received a poor work performance appraisal after experiencing a work-related fracture that was claimed to have come about because s company safety policy was violated. Similar discipline was foisted upon two other workers after one reported a back injury and another reported an ankle injury.
Workers’ compensation laws are in place in part to make it easier for workers to be compensated when they are injured. Though most employers honor their obligations and take responsibility for workplace injuries that occurred, the above circumstances demonstrates how some employers try to circumvent the system. It’s for this and other reasons that attorneys are needed to represent workers in such matters.
Source: WorkersCompensation.com, “Discipline Of Southwestern Bell Workers Prompts Lawsuit By USDOL For Illegal Retaliation Against Workers,” May 16, 2014