Labor sues Postal Service over whistleblower mistreatment

Ben Margot/AP

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service, OSHA confirmed Wednesday.

According to OSHA, the Postal Service specifically violated Section 11(c) of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, when a safety specialist at the Seattle Process and Distribution Center faced discrimination and retaliation after providing information to an employee who wanted to file a safety complaint with OSHA.

After being reprimanded for advising a colleague to file a complaint, the safety specialist was transferred to another office, his work was given to someone with a lower pay-grade and he was blocked from receiving a promotion, according to a press release from OSHA.

The suit, reported Tuesday by the Seattle Weekly, is asking for relief for the safety specialist, including payment of lost wages and benefits and compensation damages for emotional distress.

“An employee’s right to report unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions must be protected to ensure that workers are not injured or sickened on the job,” Dean Ikeda, OSHA’s regional administrator in Seattle, said in a statement. “Hostility and retaliation against whistleblowers are simply unacceptable.”

Labor also is asking the court to order a permanent injunction against the Postal Service to prevent future violations of the law, as this is OSHA’s second lawsuit against the Seattle processing and distribution center.

Labor sued USPS in July 2009, alleging that an employee was wrongfully discharged after she filed a complaint about unhealthy working conditions. That employee was referred to OSHA by the safety specialist who is the subject of the current lawsuit. According to an OSHA spokeswoman, the 2009 case was withdrawn.

While OSHA cannot sue other federal agencies, Congress amended the Occupational Safety and Health Actin 1998 to make sure USPS was treated as a private employer under the legislation.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.