Akers Law Offices, PLLC
Call Us Today to Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation
Charleston: 304-932-4571
Toll Free: 888-689-4893
  • Injured In An Accident?

    Protect your claim. Don’t talk to the insurance company. Don’t sign. Talk to us first.
    Tell Us About Your Accident
  • Suffered Serious Harm?

    You have rights at work, school and on others’ property. We’ll help you enforce them.
    Tell Us What Happened
  • Contact Us Today!

    We are here to help. Even if you just have questions about your rights and options.
    Get Your Free Consultation

Calling for assistance for an injured coworker is a protected act

Note to employers: When somebody cuts off a thumb, it's basic human decency to call for an ambulance.

You don't have to take our word for it, either—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the same thing. It also says retaliating against an employee who does try to call for an ambulance when something like that happens is a violation of the law.

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit on behalf of an employee who was terminated from her job at a beef jerky manufacturing plant in West Virginia. The worker had witnessed a fellow employee sever his thumb and grabbed her cellphone to call for help. The company's owner ordered her to hang up. He handled the transport of the wounded employee to a local clinic himself, instead. The employee was eventually transferred to a hospital but attempts to reattach the thumb were unsuccessful.

Later, the witness expressed her concerns about the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment with an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She also noted that the owner didn't take the necessary measures to properly clean or sterilize the area where the accident occurred. Two days later, she was fired.

OSHA says that her actions were all protected under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which protects employees from retaliation for expressing their concerns over health and safety violations. This is sometimes known as the "whistleblower" provision of the act. It's designed to make it possible for employees to alert authorities to problems that could affect not only workers but consumers without fear of losing their job.

Under the law, OSHA can ask the court to order the employer to provide the terminated employee with a number of different types of relief, including lost wages and payment for her emotional distress. If the employee so desires, OSHA could also ask for her reinstatement. In addition, it isn't unusual for OSHA to ask for punitive damages—which are designed solely to punish the employer and discourage other employers from similar actions.

If you believe that you are about to be fired or have already been fired in retaliation for a complaint that you made about safety or sanitary conditions in the workplace, remember that you actions may be protected under the law. Consider talking to an attorney as soon as possible if you have any doubts.

Source: Insurance Journal, "West Virginia Beef-Jerky Maker Sued for Firing Worker Who Tried to Report Accident," John Raby, Jan. 10, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Get The Legal Help You Deserve. Contact Us Today.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Case Results

  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, donec morbi dolor massa velit mi, etiam nunc etiam libero eu ac augue, sapien venenatis et mattis a tortor.
Read More >


  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, donec morbi dolor massa velit mi, etiam nunc etiam libero eu ac augue, sapien venenatis et mattis a tortor.
Read More >