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United States Steel Corp. has agreed to rescind its policy of requiring employees to immediately report injuries and illnesses and then punishing employees for failing to abide by the policy, a practice that drew legal fire from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department sued the Pittsburgh-based manufacturer in federal court in mid-February seeking to reverse disciplinary actions against two employees for failing to immediately report workplace injuries in accordance with company policy.
To settle the lawsuit, U.S. Steel agreed to immediately rescind its reporting policy and never to reinstate or enforce that policy or any other containing a requirement that makes it impossible or impracticable for an employee to meet when the employee may not know he or she sustained an injury or illness at the time of the incident.
The manufacturer also agreed to rescind the discipline of the two employees at the heart of the lawsuit and pay back wages, plus interest. John Armstrong will receive $877.23 and Jeff Walters will get $471.84. The company also agreed to rescind a suspension against another employee, Derrick Marbley, whose complaint was pending review by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and instead place a written warning in his file, contingent on Mr. Marbley withdrawing grievances he filed.
“OSHA is extremely pleased with this settlement, which requires the payment of back wages to U.S. Steel employees who were disciplined after reporting of injuries to their employer, along with significant changes in U.S. Steel's injury and incident reporting policies,” Richard Mendelson, OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia, said in a statement. “OSHA and the regional office of the solicitor partnered to negotiate this outstanding agreement, which ensures that employees can properly report on-the-job injuries without fear of retaliation.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Steel declined to comment.
Employers that face significant penalties for federal workplace safety violations often win reductions in proposed fines during informal talks with regulators, but settling citations is not as easy as it once was.