Workplace Safety and Hazards
Does your workplace threaten your health or safety? Are you afraid to file a safety complaint because of fear of retaliation? Has your employer retaliated against you because you reported a safety violation?
Houston employment lawyers Kalandra Wheeler, Robert J. Wiley, and Julie St. John represent employees with dangerous workplaces. A variety of laws support employees in trying to get a healthier, safer work environment. The primary employment law for Texans is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This is a federal law that protects workers from dangerous workplaces and retaliation.
Commonly referred to as OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates and prosecutes safety violations as well as retaliation. We represent Houston workers in the OSHA administrative process.
As a government agency, OSHA is required to be neutral. OSHA neither favors employers nor employees. Rather, OSHA interprets and executes the law. It is important to have an advocate on your side when going to OSHA. As Houston employment lawyers, we draft OSHA complaints and represent workers through OSHA’s administrative process.
Importantly, OSHA has some of the shortest deadlines for taking action. Workers may have thirty days or less to file their complaint. Therefore a worker in a unsafe workplace, or who has experienced retaliation, should contact us right away. In fact, if you suspect your employer is planning on taking action against you, contact us before your employer has the chance to fire you.
OSHA is not the only agency that investigates and prosecutes workplace safety violations and retaliation. Many other agencies also have workplace safety laws, such as the FAA (aviation/George Bush and Hobby airports), NRC (nuclear power plants/South Texas Nuclear Generating Station), DOT (transportation), MARAD (shipping/port of Houston), and others.
Houston is rife with dangerous workplaces. Of all industries, the petroleum industry is a notorious offender. Many workers believe that being injured is just part of working in the oil industry. This is not true; you should never have to risk your life or injury for the benefit of your employer. The petroleum industry is actually highly regulated to protect workers.
The petroleum industry is not alone. We all know that many employers will skirt the law in an attempt to save money even if it means workers are injured or killed. Violations are also rife in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries.
Unfortunately, many workers do not complain about dangerous workplaces because they are afraid of retaliation. Even worse, these fears of retaliation are often well grounded. OSHA has strong anti-retaliation provisions. In our opinion, workers who make a proper OSHA complaint and are represented by an attorney are less likely to experience retaliation. The more attention that is drawn to a complaint, the harder it is for an employer to get away with retaliation.
If you are working in a dangerous workplace or have experienced retaliation, contact us immediately. Generally, we will have you meet with an attorney at our Houston office by the Galleria. We will discuss your situation and attempt to assess whether you qualify under a workplace safety law. If we can represent you, and you think we’re the right lawyers for you, we will sign a retainer agreement. Usually we begin by contacting the employer with a demand letter. However, because OSHA has incredibly short deadlines, in some cases cases there is no option but to immediately file a federal complaint.
Remedies can include making the workplace safe, fines, reinstatement (if an employee was fired), and monetary awards to employees. Sometimes we also negotiate severance or settlement agreements if an employer and worker are better off parting ways.
Again, if you (1) are in an unsafe workplace, (2) have experienced retaliation because you complained about a safety issue, or (3) believe you may experience retaliation, please contact us right away.