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Ohio Bell sued for mistreatment of injured workers

The Ohio Bell Telephone Company, doing business as AT&T, is the defendant to a lawsuit filed recently by the U.S. Department of Labor in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The suit alleges that the company penalized workers for reporting workplace injuries. The suit claims that on 13 occasions, employees were suspended without pay after informing the company about an on-the-job injury.

The workers include individuals based in Canton and Uhrichsville who were told that they had violated phone company rules on workplace safety regarding ladders. This was used as the basis for disciplinary actions against the employees.

The three workers involved in the alleged incidents are longtime employees in the customer service department. The U.S. Department of Labor reported receiving formal complaints from each of the men about their suspensions. It is against federal law to dock a worker’s pay because he or she notified an employer about an on-the-job injury.

In filing the lawsuit, the Labor Department has emphasized that penalizing employees who report injuries will lead to an increase in future injuries and an unsafe work environment. It labelled the company actions retaliation.

Ohio Bell is accused of violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which encourages workers to inform employers about possible problems. The law makes it illegal for companies to reprimand employees for notifying them of violations.

If the lawsuit succeeds, the employees will be reimbursed for their docked wages plus lost benefits and interest. Their personnel records will be cleared and the company will be required to display a notice confirming its compliance with the law. Employees in unsafe work environments do not have to confront their employers alone; legal representation can help them get the compensation they deserve.

Source: Cantonrep.com, “Labor Dept. sues AT&T for suspending workers who reported injuries,” Lee Morrision, Feb. 11, 2014

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