Labor Department vows to protect workers who report unsafe conditions

Labor Department vows to protect workers who report unsafe conditions
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The Department of Labor is warning employers that it's illegal to retaliate against workers who speak out about unsafe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a brief statement Wednesday encouraging workers to submit whistleblower complaints to the agency if they encounter any misconduct.

“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Loren Sweatt, the assistant labor secretary in charge of OSHA. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”

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The warning comes as the public health crisis has made routine jobs increasingly perilous and medical workers are highlighting the shortage of protective and lifesaving equipment.

Last month, an emergency room doctor in Washington state and a nurse in Chicago were fired after speaking out about their working conditions. NYU Langone, a New York City hospital, warned its employees that they could be fired for speaking to the press without approval, according to Bloomberg.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioScience says: 'Open the schools' De Blasio's daughter arrested in NYC protest: reports 'Mr. President, the nation needs to hear from you' MORE ordered an investigation into Amazon's firing last month of an employee who had led a walkout of at a local facility demanding better safeguards. Amazon has said that the employee was fired for violating the company's demand that he self-isolate for 14 days after exposure to a coworker who tested positive for coronavirus.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has also called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the incident.