Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Drilling Co. Hit With ADA, ADEA Lawsuit

An employer in Oklahoma apparently had it out for older job applicants, particularly if they had history of filing of filing workers’ compensation claims.

Horizontal Well Drillers (HWD), an oil and gas drilling company with its corporate offices in Purcell, Okla., violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it declined to hire applicants based on their age or reported history of filing workers’ compensation claims, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

According to EEOC’s suit, HWD used information from employment applications to discriminate in hiring based on applicants’ age and history of filing workers’ compensation claims. The suit also seeks relief for Wilbert Glover, an applicant whom HWD forced to undergo an allegedly unlawful post-job-offer medical exam. The agency claims that HWD also violated federal law when it withdrew Glover’s job offer based on information it learned from the exam.

In addition to these claims, EEOC asserts that HWD unlawfully failed to retain records, maintain confidentiality of employee and applicant medical records, and file required reports with the agency. HWD also violated the ADA by conducting background searches for information about applicants’ prior workers’ compensation claims, the EEOC charged.

EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (EEOC v. Horizontal Well Drillers LLC, Case No. 5:17-cv-00879-R) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages for Mr. Glover and those persons who were not hired because of HWD’s unlawful employment practices, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent and address future discrimination based on age or disability and to otherwise bring the company into compliance with federal law.

“Excluding qualified workers because of their age or because they were previously injured on the job is not only illegal, it is bad business,” Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for EEOC’s St. Louis District, said. “It not only robs job-seekers of an opportunity to work to support themselves and their families, it also causes businesses to lose out on valuable talent and experience.”

James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, added, “Using stereotypes about age and disabilities to screen out applicants for high paying oil field jobs cannot be tolerated. Hiring qualified people with experience and ability makes sense. Refusing to hire such people because of their age or previous work-related injuries does not.”

According to its website, HWD currently operates drilling rigs at locations in Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Mexico.

Mass. Psych Ward Operator Hit With Steep OSHA Fines For Ignoring Workplace Violence Risk

The operators of psychiatric wards should take note of recent activity by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to penalize those operators that fail to take adequate steps to protect ward employees from violence.

A Massachusetts behavioral health facility faces $207,690 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for violations found while conducting a follow-up inspection.

On June 29, 2017, OSHA issued UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc. – doing business as Lowell Treatment Center – a notification for failure to abate violation involving workplace violence. This follows a serious violation related to the same hazards that federal safety and health inspectors found on May 19, 2015. As a result of the 2015 inspection, the employer and OSHA entered into a Formal Settlement Agreement on April 12, 2016, which outlined specific provisions of a workplace violence prevention program.

OSHA opened a follow-up inspection on Jan. 5, 2017, after Lowell Treatment Center failed to provide documentation to show that it had implemented a workplace violence program, and the agency’s Andover Area Office received a complaint alleging employees remained at risk. OSHA found the center had failed to comply with multiple terms of its agreement, and that – despite previous citations and worker injuries – the risks for workers to suffer fatal injury or serious harm still existed. OSHA also cited the company for one repeat violation and three other-than-serious violations related to recordkeeping.

“Our inspectors found that employees throughout the Lowell Treatment Center continued to be exposed to incidents of workplace violence that could have been greatly reduced had the employer fully implemented the settlement agreement,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA’s regional administrator in Boston.

UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc., is one of the nation’s largest health-care management companies. Through its subsidiaries, UHS operates 350 behavioral health facilities, acute care hospitals, ambulatory centers, and freestanding emergency departments throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With approximately 130 workers, the Lowell Treatment Center is a 41-bed satellite facility of Westwood Lodge. The center is a psychiatric hospital that offers inpatient hospitalization and partial hospitalization for adolescents and adults.

UHS of Westwood Pembroke has notified OSHA of its intent to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Andover Area Office at (978) 837-4460.

Click here for information on OSHA’s guidelines for preventing workplace violence in the health-care industry.

Ford Pays Big to Settle Harassment Lawsuit

Even for a major car manufacturer, $10 million is alot to pay to settle allegations of harassment.

Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay up to $10.125 million to settle sex and race harassment for a group of individuals which was investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) at two Ford plants, the federal agency announced yesterday.

In its investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area, the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant, had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment. The EEOC also found that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ford chose to voluntarily resolve this issue with the EEOC, without admission of liability, to avoid an extended dispute.

The conciliation agreement provides monetary relief of up to $10.125 million to those who are found eligible through a claims process established by the agreement. The agreement also ensures that during the next five years, Ford will conduct regular training at two of its Chicago-area facilities; continue to disseminate its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to employees and new hires; report to EEOC regarding complaints of harassment and/or related discrimination; and monitor its workforce regarding issues of alleged sexual or racial harassment and related discrimination.

“Ford Motor Company has worked with the EEOC to address complaints of harassment and discrimination at these two facilities and to implement policies and procedures that will effectively prevent future harassment or provide prompt action when harassment complaints arise. Ford has taken its responsibilities seriously and is committed to providing its employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment,” said the EEOC’s Chicago District Director, Julianne Bowman.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Bad Reservations: NYC Plaza Hotel Named in Former Employees’ Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Were female employees being harassed at New York City’s Plaza Hotel?

They were, according to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by six current or former employees. The bartenders, servers, and hospitality coordinators say they were groped, catcalled at and propositioned by managers and other co-worker’s while employed at the hotel’s Palm Court restaurant.

Management ignored the womens’ complaints and retaliated against them, they charge.

Harassment “has not and never will be tolerated,” replied hotel manager Fairmont Hotels and Resort.

Deep Sleep: DOT Pulls Proposed Rule to Require Apnea Testing for Drivers, Railroad Engineers

The Transportation Department isn’t going to test truck and bus drivers and railroad engineers for sleep apnea after all.

The DOT pulled the proposed testing rule last week, acknowledging the risk that sleep apnea presents but saying that existing safety programs are adequate.

It’s estimated that more than 25 million Americans suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea. The disorder results in reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep.

The federal government requires testing of airline pilots for the condition, which disrupts sleep and contributes to drowsiness during the day.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration, which sought input last year on a proposed rule to require apnea testing, announced on Aug. 4 that it was pulling the rule.

Help for Miners Who Don’t Meet Approved Medical Standards as Condition for Employment

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is announcing immediate action to address a longstanding issue by implementing an action plan for employees who do not meet the Agency’s medical standards. Some employees have not met medical standards for several years.

MSHA inspectors and technical personnel are required to have periodic medical examinations and meet U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) -approved medical standards as a condition of employment. Medical examinations, including tests for vision and hearing, are required. MSHA reviewed examination results and determined that approximately 15 to 20 percent of MSHA inspectors and technical personnel do not currently meet the Agency’s medical standards and that the problem had been growing over the past several years.

The Department of Labor is taking immediate action to develop an effective, consistent, and equitable plan to resolve the issue. In response, MSHA will implement an individualized assessment process for employees who do not meet medical standards. The process will incorporate requirements for reasonable accommodation, resolve issues efficiently and effectively, and be conducted in a consistent and fair manner.

MSHA will be transparent throughout this process, while being mindful of employees’ privacy concerns. MSHA will work with stakeholders, including the employees’ union, and keep them informed.

Fla. Roofing Company Hit With $1.5M OSHA Fine for Failing to Protect Workers From Fall Dangers

Everyone with a job works to some degree at risk. The risk of being fired or the risk of being injured, among others.

Construction workers for a North Florida roofing company take on more risk than most, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA said on Aug. 9 it has again cited a North Florida roofing contractor for failing to protect its workers from the risks of dangerous falls and other hazards at two St. Augustine work sites.

On Feb. 3, 2017, an OSHA inspector observed employees – without the use of proper fall protection – removing shingles and plywood sheeting from the roof of a multi-story residential structure in the city’s Crescent Beach area. Although the employees wore harnesses, they were not tied off to the rope grabs and roof anchors. After noticing other Great White employees working under similar conditions at a nearby site, a second inspection was initiated immediately as part of OSHA’s regional enforcement program for falls in construction.

OSHA cited Great White Construction Inc., based in Jacksonville, with 14 violations and proposed penalties totaling $1,523,710. Given the employer’s extensive prior history of violations and OSHA’s egregious citation policy, the agency issued 11 separate willful citations for failing to protect employees from fall hazards. OSHA also cited the company for three repeat violations for failing to ensure employees used eye protection while operating nail guns and for ladders used to access roof sites, again exposing employees to fall hazards.

“In the past five years, Great White Construction’s series of willful, serious, and repeat violations has demonstrated indifference towards the safety of their employees,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “The company allowed their employees to work without fall protection and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the hazard.”

As a result of these investigations and citations, Great White is now in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program due to high-gravity willful, egregious violations related to fall hazards.

OSHA has investigated Great White 12 times since 2012, and issued 22 citations related to improper fall protection, ladder safety, and eye protection.

Click here and here for the recent citations that OSHA issued to Great White.

Great White specializes in residential and commercial roofing. The company’s workforce consists of approximately 150 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Jacksonville Area Office at 904-232-2895.