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.
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.
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:
- With Hazardous Substances: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 502.017(c).
- In Assisted Living Facilities: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 247.068(a).
- In Hospice and Home Care: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 142.0093(a); Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 48.257.
- In Hospitals: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 161.134(a).
- In Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 252.132.
- In Nursing Homes: Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 242.133.
- 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.
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