Friday, July 08, 2011

CMM Realty Alleged to Have Violated OSH Act and Clean Air Act

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sued CMM Realty Inc. for allegedly firing an employee who voiced and reported workplace and environmental concerns regarding asbestos at one of the company's worksites.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division, alleges that the company violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it terminated the individual's employment.  OSHA is asking that the court provide him all appropriate relief, including reinstatement to his former position, back pay, interest and compensatory damages, as well as prohibit the defendant from future violations.
On May 13, 2009, the employee voiced concerns to the owner of CMM Realty concerning asbestos exposure at the company's Briargate Condominiums.  The following day, he filed complaints with the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Conservations.  Both agencies conducted inspections and issued citations against CMM Realty for violating asbestos control standards.  On that same day, the employee was informed that his services were no longer needed.  On May 18, he was notified officially of his termination from the company.
In June 2009, the employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA.  After conducting an investigation, the agency found that CMM Realty unlawfully had terminated the individual's employment for reporting concerns to management about exposure to asbestos and for filing complaints with the two state agencies.  In November 2010, OSHA enforced the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act by ordering the company to reinstate the whistleblower and pay him $56,222 in compensatory damages and back wages, which continue to accumulate while he is out of work.  The company appealed that order to the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, where it awaits review.
OSHA is now suing the company in federal court for violating Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, which forbids companies from discriminating against an employee because he or she has filed a complaint with OSHA.
CMM Realty Inc. is a real estate management corporation with its main office in Columbia, S.C.
OSHA is represented in federal district court by the Labor Department's Office of the Solicitor.
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