A Los Angeles garment factory, like many others in the industry, has been greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19. In the last couple of months, the workers noticed a steady decrease in the number of employees. Rumors spread that the absent employees were sick with the virus and that some have died.
Mariana, one of the factory’s workers, said she and the other workers were worried, afraid and felt unsafe. They claim that they received vague and delayed information about the positive COVID-19 cases in their factory. With very little information from the factory’s management, the workers were left to make their own assumptions as to why their co-workers were gone.
According to The Times, the factory’s founder claimed that they immediately informed their employees of the confirmed coronavirus cases in their factory and who may have been exposed to it. However, the workers say otherwise, and that they were misinformed and kept in the dark as their co-workers became sick.
When the workers found out that some of the employees had died, they took action and refused to work for at least a couple of hours. They demanded that they be provided with better working conditions and protection as the virus continues to spread.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to provide employees a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” and that all employees “comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations and orders pursuant to the OSH Act”.
As COVID-19 is widespread within the community, the OSHA added industry specific guidelines for employers to further protect their employees. The consequences of non-compliance with OSHA regulations vary, from fines to maybe even jail time, depending on the severity of the violation.
As an employee, you have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint with OSHA and request for an inspection of your workplace if you believe that there is a serious hazard or if your employer is violating OSHA standards and regulations. Your complaint must be immediately filed after being aware of the hazard or violation.
If your employer retaliates against you for exercising your rights as an employee, you have the right to file a whistleblower complaint under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by OSHA. To retaliate against you, your employer will fire you.
As a victim of whistleblowing violations, you can claim compensation for physical, mental, emotional damages, plus lost wages and benefits.
To assure that your claims are within the acceptable terms of whistleblowing laws, it is best to consult with a whistleblower attorney. At Mesriani Law Group, our experienced whistleblower attorneys can help you establish your claims and priority your case against your employer.
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