DOL Sues NY Practice for Firing Employee Over Lack of COVID Protocols
The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against a New York ophthalmologist and his practice in New York for allegedly firing an employee who raised concerns about the practice’s failure to implement state-mandated protocols to protect employees from COVID-19, and later filed complaints with state health officials.
OSHA conducted a whistleblower investigation which found that the doctor and his practice retaliated against the employee for filing complaints with the New York State Department of Health. The investigation revealed that the doctor fired the employee the same day the health department contacted his office and he specifically cited the employee’s contact with state officials as the reason for the termination.
The department asks the court to enjoin the defendants permanently from future violations of the OSH Act’s anti-retaliation provisions and order them to:
- Pay damages to the complainant for all lost wages and benefits resulting from their unlawful termination.
- Offer to reinstate complainant to their previous position, with full benefits, seniority and other prerequisites of employment, and/or provide appropriate front pay in lieu of reinstatement.
- Reimburse the complainant for any costs, expenses, and/or other pecuniary losses incurred, as well as compensation for non-economic losses, including emotional distress.
- Pay exemplary or punitive damages to the complainant.
- Prominently post a notice for employees stating that the defendants will not discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee for engaging in activities protected by section 11(c) of the OSH Act.
OSHA’s Division of Whistleblower Protection Programs in New York conducted the investigation. Senior Trial Attorney Alexander M. Kondo and Attorney Audrey-Marie Winn of the Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York are litigating the case.