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Ohio Bell faces lawsuit for worker injuries and retailiation

If you get hurt at work, you probably expect to receive workers’ compensation for the time you miss from work and the medical bills you’ll have to pay. The last thing you’d think would happen is for you to receive a suspension or other types of discipline. In this case, workplace injuries may have caused some people to face suspensions or disciplinary warnings. According to a report from Feb. 11, Ohio Bell has been sued for reportedly disciplining workers who reported workplace injuries.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed the lawsuit against the Ohio Bell Telephone Company, according to the news, claiming that it violated whistleblower provisions when it disciplined 13 workers who had reported workplace injuries. The violation was allegedly against the rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

There are several reports of incidents that are included in the lawsuit. In one, a man was injured in Jan. 2013 when he was loading boxes into his vehicle at Ohio Bell. He received medical treatment on Jan. 18, 2013 and returned to work on 13 days later. However, the company claimed that the man had violated an ergonomics policy it had, so it issued him a disciplinary warning and one-day suspension. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s whistleblower provisions make it against the law for employers to suspend or discipline employees who report injuries, and it’s possible that is what happened with these 13 people.

The assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health claims that the company has been discouraging its workers from reporting injuries, and that increases the chances of other people being hurt in the future. This kind of retaliation is unacceptable, which is why the Labor Department is attempting to sue the company. The AT&T corporation at Ohio Bell has reported that it believes it is in full compliance with state and federal laws.

Source: The Plain Dealer, “U.S. Labor Department accuses Ohio Bell of wrongfully suspending injured workers; sues company in federal court” James F. McCarty, Feb. 11, 2014

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