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July 2016

Gordon & Rees Denver Team Wins OSHA Whistleblower Case

On June 24, 2016, Gordon & Rees Denver partner Laurie J. Rust, Of Counsel John “Jack” Mann, associate Chris Jones, and paralegal Derek Kirchmeier secured the dismissal of an OSHA Whistleblower Retaliation Complaint on behalf of their client, a resort management company, following a formal hearing.

The Complainant, a former maintenance technician at a Hawaiian resort, alleged that his employment was terminated in violation of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) and Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). He claimed to have reported that hypodermic needles were improperly disposed of and that raw sewage posed a threat to worker safety and the surrounding waterways. He alleged that each time he complained he was issued a disciplinary warning, culminating in termination.

At the hearing, Gordon & Rees established that the Complainant received three disciplinary warnings for failure to complete the most basic aspects of his job in the first thirty days of employment. It presented substantial evidence bearing on the Complainant’s credibility, including his own journals and inconsistent allegations.

The judge largely adopted Gordon & Rees’ proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. She found that the allegations regarding complaints of improper sharps disposal and solid waste were not credible and that, even if the Complainant had engaged in protected activity, retaliation was not the motivating factor for the termination of the Complainant’s employment.

Christopher Ryan Jones
John R. Mann