Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
Facebook posts raising on-the-job health concerns contributed to the firing of a worker that OSHA is now defending in federal court.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Jan. 19 filed a whistle-blower defense lawsuit claiming that Shepherd’s Chapel Church of Gravette, Ark., which has a nationally distributed television ministry, and Pastor Dennis Murray wrongly dismissed two workers who are married to each other ( Perez v. Soldiers of the Cross , W.D. Ark., No. 17-5014, 1/19/17 ).
The case appears to be the first time OSHA has said in a whistle-blower lawsuit that Facebook entries complaining about safety or health conditions are protected by federal law.
The Department of Labor’s National Labor Relations Board has previously defended workers who lost their jobs after complaining on Facebook about wages and hour issues.
Kimberly Carnahan lost her job on Jan. 13, 2016, after Murray learned that her husband, Darrin Carnahan, posted three complaints on Facebook about the chapel’s hazardous work environment, according to OSHA’s lawsuit.
Kimberly Carnahan told Murray, she was unware of her husband’s Facebook posts until the pastor spoke to her, the lawsuit says.
Darrin Carnahan, who OSHA is also defending, was dismissed by the chapel in October 2015 after he told a supervisor he was becoming sick because of poor ventilation inside a print shop, the lawsuit says.
The nonprofit business allegedly violated Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibiting employers from punishing workers for bringing up job-related safety or health problems, according the to the lawsuit.
OSHA is seeking for the Carnahans their lost wages and benefits plus interest, compensation for emotional suffering, reinstatement or a financial settlement and clearing personnel records of references to the terminations.
OSHA records don’t show any inspections of Shepherd’s Chapel.
The chapel did not respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment on the allegations Jan. 23.
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.
OSHA rarely files lawsuits in Section 11(c) cases. The actions are usually filed after no settlement can be agreed to and Department of Labor attorneys believe they have a winnable case.
Brian Hurt of the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor in Dallas, Texas, represents OSHA.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
The complaint is available at http://src.bna.com/lBB.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)