Employee Safety and Whistleblower Protection are Ensured by Texas and Federal Law in the Corona Virus Era

Since the imposition of a national state of emergency due to the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was declared, employees have been asked to stay home or work under extraordinary conditions. Now more than ever, employees need to know that they have a legal right to a safe workplace. Employees should never be forced to make a choice between keeping their jobs or protecting their lives. Under Texas and federal law, employees have protections to guard their safety in the workplace. From our perspective as employment lawyers, we want you to understand that there are many ways to enforce the right of an employee to a safe workplace.

We Can Help You Make an Effective OSHA Complaint if Your Employee Safety was Compromised

If you believe you are being required to work in an unsafe environment, contact us so we can analyze your situation and help you determine if it is appropriate to file an OSHA complaint and seek enforcement of federal safety law. We offer a free review of the circumstances of your case. Call us at (214) 969-9099 or contact us through this website using this link contact us to make an appointment to discuss your situation with a lawyer in our Dallas office.

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Understand Your Employee Safety Rights

Many brave men and women work at jobs that are necessary to support the shelter in place order for the rest of us. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, grocers, pharmacists and technicians, health facilities personnel, home care providers, doctors, dentists, nurses, and the like, are valiantly serving us so we can stay safe. And, we are grateful. At the same time, we want to help employees understand their employee safety rights. Below we have listed five types of specific tools that are especially valuable during the current state of emergency.

Federal OSHA Program Protects Employee Safety

The right to a safe workplace is contained and guaranteed within the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, commonly known as OSHA. The OSHA general safety clause, 29 U.S.C. 654, states that each employer shall furnish to each employee a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to the employee.

NLRA Ensures Employees the Right to Work Together to Improve Employee Safety

Federal law provides that employees may work together in concert to request that their employer make changes in the workplace, including improving workplace safety. If you and your coworkers feel unsafe, you can act together to request more or better safety rules, tools or procedures. In some cases, even a single individual is protected if she or he is requesting safety protections for a group of employees. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C.§ 157, states that employees have the right to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.

Many Employees Don’t Know Their Rights

Unfortunately, in many workplace settings, employees do not know their rights. They do not feel free to speak with their bosses about workplace safety issues out of fear of being fired. However, under the concerted activities clause of the NLRA, employees who come to an employer to seek improvement in workplace safety may have strong protection from retaliation.

Retaliation for Exercising Your Employee Rights

If you believe you or your coworkers have experienced retaliation for concerted activity, contact us so we can analyze your case and determine if it is appropriate to file a claim with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is capable of ordering that an employee who experienced retaliation and wrongful termination be reinstated with back pay.

Sabine Pilot Cases Under Texas Common Law

Under Texas common law, no employee may be required to commit an illegal act under criminal law. This type of lawsuit is called a Sabine Pilot case. It is named after the first case that created this common law right in Texas. If you believe your employer has requested, or is asking you, to commit an unsafe practice that might violate a criminal law, please contact us so we may analyze your rights.

Whistleblower Protection

The Texas Whistleblower Act protects employees who report wrongdoing by their employers. There are significant protections included for employees who blow the whistle. To qualify for these protections, it is critical that an employee in Texas follow a specific procedure. We can help. If you are thinking of blowing the whistle on your employer, please contact us so we can advise you about the best way to do this.

Employee Safety in Health Facilities is Protected

Employees in the health and safety professions, such as nurses in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other health facilities are also protected in certain situations. However, these protections are much more difficult to qualify for, and you must know whom to complain to and what manner the complaint must take. If you work in a health facility and believe that safety rules are being violated for yourself or patients, call us so we can analyze your legal rights.

Specific Texas laws include industry-specific protections for employees working:

  1. With Hazardous Substances: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 502.017(c).
  2. In Assisted Living Facilities: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 247.068(a).
  3. In Hospice and Home Care: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 142.0093(a); Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 48.257.
  4. In Hospitals: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 161.134(a).
  5. In Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 252.132.
  6. In Nursing Homes: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 242.133.
  7. As Nurses: Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 301.413(b).

Clients Tell Us

Click on this link to read some of the many client testimonials that people have sent to thank our attorneys for getting them back on track. Kilgore & Kilgore can do the same for you.

Reach Out to Us

To learn more about our employee safety and whistleblower protection law practice, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with an attorney at our Dallas office, contact us. We offer a free review of the circumstances of your case.

“Clark Will assisted me in obtaining approval of a religious exemption for a COVID vaccination mandate imposed by my employer. I appreciated his work in laying out the foundational argument for this approval in a clear, concise manner accessible to HR decision-makers. As an attorney employed by a large international company, I appreciate that Clark was required to do time-consuming legal research, for which he charged me a flat rate that was extremely reasonably priced. I have referred two people to him already.”
– MHL, 2022, COVID Religious Exemption

“Bob Goodman and I made an excellent attorney-client team. He puts his clients and their families first. He was fair, objective, and responsive. Bob kept me in the loop and up-to-date about the happenings of my case. He made me feel like a valued team member. I would recommend Bob Goodman to anyone in need of assistance with an employment law matter.”
– H Richards, 2019, Wrongful Termination, Retaliation, Violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act

“In my manager role, I reported some unethical behavior of my supervisor to the HR manager, but the problem was not addressed. So, I took the matter to Corporate. A different supervisor was assigned who made work miserable for me. Then, he terminated me. I’d been with that employer for 20 years and received high performance metrics. I reached out to Bob Goodman. He told me of the best course of action then worked diligently to negotiate my severance package. I had a lot of questions along the way. Bob was responsive, even after hours and on weekends. He was compassionate, professional and easy to speak with. I highly recommend Bob Goodman and Kilgore & Kilgore.”
– DM, 2018, Employment Retaliation, Wrongful Termination, Severance Package

Have You Been Illegally Terminated?
published by Kilgore & Kilgore PLLC

The definition of wrongful discharge is extremely narrow in Texas and New York because they are both right-to-work states. Many people feel they were unfairly treated when they lost their jobs. This article explains the legal facts of… Read More

Whistleblower Protection Beefed Up by Dodd-Frank Additions
by Ted Anderson, Esquire, Managing Director of Kilgore & Kilgore

In 2012, Dodd-Frank has strengthened the hands of whistleblowers by providing significant financial incentives and extra protection from employment retaliation by employers… Read More