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May 29, 2013
Company faces significant fines for firing whistleblower

OSHA continues to come down hard on employers that retaliate against employees who raise safety concerns. The latest to cross the agency is Enercon Services, Inc., which provides engineering support services to nuclear facilities across the United States.

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OSHA ordered the business to pay more than $261,000 to a senior engineer who was fired in January 2012 while working on a project in Kansas.

According to OSHA, the engineer reported breaches of soil coverage requirements for emergency piping. The breaches occurred when a trench was dug to bury a grounding cable for a new security fence being constructed for the emergency service water pump. The engineer disagreed with an Enercon Services manager about a design change and reportedly was fired a few days later.

The employer was ordered by OSHA to reinstate the engineer to his former position with pay and to provide benefits, damages, fees, and back wages.

OSHA enforces whistleblower provisions of more than 22 federal statutes. These protect employees who report violations of laws surrounding worker safety, nuclear pipelines, environmental issues, motor carriers, public transportation, and others.

By law, companies that provide service to nuclear power plants may not discharge employees or discriminate against them for notifying an employer of alleged legal violations.

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