School District Must Pay More Than $100,000 to Settle Asbestos Whistleblower Claim

Dearborn Heights School District No. 7 (D7) was ordered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay more than $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower who made complaints about asbestos in school facilities in 2012 and 2016.

The settlement money was for $102,905 in back wages, damages and other compensations. As part of the settlement, the district was also ordered to rehire the whistleblower, who worked as a janitor for the district. OSHA determined in its investigation that the employee was a victim of whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination.

Case background

The first complaint came in 2012 after work was done on Annapolis High School and Madison Elementary School in the district. The complaint alleged people who were in the building were exposed to asbestos during the work. The same employee reported potential pesticide exposure at the school in fall 2016.

D7 publicly disputed the claims made by the employee, as well as additional reports circulating in the media regarding potential exposure to these health hazards. The district kept a link on its website with a statement alleging the employees who made these claims had presented misinformation, creating an unnecessary public health scare.

Ultimately, OSHA sided with the employees after an investigation into the claims, and reminded employers everywhere that “all workers are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace without the fear of retaliation for voicing concerns.”

If you are aware of health risks at your workplace, it is important you raise your concerns through the proper channels. If you find yourself the victim of retaliation or wrongful termination, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group for legal assistance.