Austin Luxury Car Dealer Sued for Retaliation Against Employee in Whistleblower Case
An Austin luxury car dealer has been sued by the U.S. Department of Labor for terminating an employee who warned managers and other co-workers about potential coronavirus hazards in the workplace.
The action follows an OSHA investigation that found Hi Tech Motorcars LLC, Hi Tech Imports LLC and Hi Tech Luxury Imports LLC violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it retaliated against the worker in December 2020.
After learning a co-worker had tested positive for coronavirus, the employee requested that management notify other employees immediately of their risk of exposure, according to the DOL.
When management did not take action, the employee sent an email to all company employees about the potential hazards. Less than an hour later, the employer terminated the employee.
OSHA found the employee exercised their legal rights under section 11(c) of the OSH Act, and that the termination was illegal. In its filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, the department seeks reinstatement, lost wages and benefits resulting from the termination, reimbursement for costs and expenses, compensatory damages, and exemplary or punitive damages.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of 25 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, tax, criminal antitrust, and anti-money laundering laws.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor