Read the press on allegations that contractors for a major retailer locked employees in during cleaning and committed other safety violations. I have no idea as to the validity of the claims against the contractors. I do know that Target is a top-notch company with no tolerance for unsafe behavior. I have also seen the endless safety-related attacks on Wal-Mart, Hyatt and others which really seemed more about harassment by third parties than genuine safety concerns. Thus, while I would not make light of these safety allegations, I also give them limited credence.
I have three Lessons for you; especially those of you in retail and hospitality settings, where you are especially vulnerable to third-party actions and attacks designed to harm the Company Brand.
1. AS I RECENTLY (AGAIN) BLOGGED, THIRD-PARTIES OF ALL SORTS (NOT JUST UNIONS!) ARE INCREASINGLY USING SAFETY AS A MEANS TO HARM REPUTATIONS AND PUT PRESSURE ON EMPLOYERS.
2. HOSPITALITY, FOOD SERVICE AND RETAIL, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, HAVE EXPERIENCED LESS SERIOUS WORKPLACE INJURIES AND DEATHS OR ATTENTION FROM OSHA. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THESE SETTINGS DO NOT PRESENT SERIOUS OSHA AND SAFETY COMPLIANCE ISSUES.
3. OSHA CAN AND WILL SITE PROPERTY STORES FOR OSHA VIOLATIONS OF ITS CONTRACTORS AND THEY CAN REALLY EMBARRASS YOU, SO BECOME INVOLVED IN MORE DETAILED PRE-QUALIFICATION AND OVERSIGHT.
I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues.
Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession.
I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors.
I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values.
Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral.
As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
This entry was posted in concerted protected activity
, employer policies
, government inspections
, union organizing
, workers comp
and tagged concerted protected activity
, fast food restaurants
, osha liabilty for contractors
, retail osha issues
, retail workers
, safety attacks on hotels and restaurants
, safety claims against retailers
. Bookmark the permalink