Example of a case where employee was fired after complaining to his boss about unsafe working conditions
It is illegal for an employer to fire or retaliate against you for reporting unsafe or illegal activity on behalf of your employer. The Maine Employee Rights Group recently represented a client who had been fired after complaining to his boss about unsafe working conditions. Our client was a carpenter and was asked to perform work on an exposed and unfinished roof at a residential construction site. Our client complained to his supervisor that he felt unsafe to work on the roof without appropriate safety gear, including a safety harness. Because of his safety concerns, our client refused to work because he felt that it could potentially lead to serious injury or death. Less than a week after our client raised his concerns, he was terminated from his employment. Our client’s employer told him that he was being fired because the company needed someone with more experience.
Our client reported his safety concerns to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA did an inspection and confirmed that there were safety violations and issued a citation to the employer.
Our firm pursued the case on our client’s behalf and argued that he had been fired for engaging in protected activity under Maine’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (MWPA). Specifically, our client had reported what he perceived to be an illegal and unsafe activity by his employer and was terminated as a result of his legitimate complaint. Not surprisingly, the employer came up with several other justifications for terminating our client's employment in addition to the one it gave him originally. The employer further claimed that our client did not even report unsafe conditions and simply left the job because he did not like the work. These type of "our word against your word" situations are very common in the cases we handle and, while a problem, are a problem that can generally be overcome through careful and painstaking investigation of the events that surrounded the termination, including a review of internal documents such as emails and depositions/interviews of witnesses. In this case, we were able to successfully show that our client's account of what happened prior to and at the time of his termination was more credible than the employers account. Since this case came down in large part to the credibility of the witnesses, our ability to shift the credibility factor in our client's favor was critical to our ability to successfully resolve this matter.
If you or someone you know has been terminated from his or her position because of reporting or making a complaint about a construction-related safety violation or illegal practice, please do not hesitate to contact the Maine Employee Rights Group today. As you can see from this case example, you should not be dissuaded from contacting us about a potential employee rights violated simply because you are concerned that the case will come down to "your word against theirs." We have successfully resolved hundreds of cases for our clients where the outcome of the case largely hinged on credibility. Please call 207.874.0905 for a free legal consultation today.