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Fired asbestos whistleblower gets award

Fired asbestos whistleblower gets award

A whistleblower who reported improper asbestos removal practices at a school worksite has won a $173,794 award after being fired for reporting these practices. 

A jury and judge ordered Albany, New York-based asbestos abatement and demolition company Champagne Demolition L.L.C. and owner Joseph Champagne to pay the award to the employee who was fired after reporting the improper practices at the worksite in Gloversville, New York, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Friday in a statement. 

The company must pay $103,000 in back wages, $20,000 in compensatory and $50,000 in punitive damages to the former employee, who was identified in court documents as Donald Miles. 

In June 2010, Mr. Miles informed company management of the improper practices and was fired the next day and subjected to verbal threats and legal action. A complaint was filed with OSHA, which opened a whistleblower investigation and found merit to the allegations, according to the statement. 

“We are pleased with the jury verdict and the judge’s ruling to hold this employer accountable for violating the employee’s rights,” OSHA Regional Administrator Robert Kulick in New York, said in the statement. “Every worker has the right to report potential safety and health hazards without fear of harassment, termination or retaliation.”

An attorney for the employer could not be immediately reached for comment. 

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other federal statutes.


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