I suspect that Nevada residents wish that the saying “What happens In Vegas stays in Vegas” applied to the embarrassing saga occurring in their State Assembly.
My reason for starting this Blog was to have a way to alert clients about trends and patterns involving OSHA and employment law concerns. One of my primary themes has been employees increased recognition of their “rights,” and their willingness to complain about their violation, or for any perceived retaliation against them for making complaints. These attitudes have contributed to both the explosion of whistleblower claims and to new employee concerns.
Add To the Mix, Concern About Workplace Violence
Probably because of the focus on the Newtown school tragedy and the current debate about how to deter public violence, we are now seeing an increase in claims asserting that the employee was retaliated against for complaining about the threat of workplace violence, including by the boss himself. Hopefully you read my recent post about “Cussing Your Employees Can Get You Sued By OSHA.” Similarly, this week saw an OSHA whistleblower suit against a Montana Dairy Queen for allegedly firing an employee for complaining about fears of workplace violence.
Fears of Workplace Violence + OSHA = a Nevada Assembly Member
Well not exactly, but the bizarre events unfolding in Nevada provide insight into the increasing complications posed by employee safety concerns, and the rise of workplace violence as one of those concerns. Employees in The State Assembly complained to Nevada OSHA that an Assembly member posed a threat. OSHA sent a Complaint Letter and the Nevada Assembly responded with a four page letter.
From the Nevada Appeal:
The response by (the Assembly) came just hours before Assembly Majority Leader William Horne announced that Brooks had been banned from the building pending resolution of the situation — a move that helps resolve the complaint. Combs said officers met Brooks at the Reno-Tahoe Airport on Monday night when he arrived from Las Vegas and served him with notice he was no longer allowed in the Legislative Building.
In his response to OSHA, (the Assembly) said the case isn’t like most other complaints about an employee being a danger to co-workers.
“It is important to recognize that Assemblyman Brooks is an elected official and not an employee of the LCB or of the Nevada Assembly,” he wrote. “Therefore, he cannot be fired, suspended or otherwise disciplined in the same manner as an employee.”
Brooks understands that some employees are concerned about reports of his behavior and voluntarily agreed to certain measures to ease those concerns, Combs said. Those, according to the letter, are that a Legislative Police officer accompany him when he is in the building. His key-card has been deactivated so he can’t enter the Legislative Building after hours without contacting Legislative Police.
1. Read the Nevada new sites… much better than those horrid reality TV shows!
2. Review your job sites for workplace violence concerns, especially if you are in healthcare, 24-hour settings such as convenience stores and hotels, or if you send employees to work alone at remote job sites or at customer locations.
3. Take seriously employee concerns and complaints, even if they may seem unreasonable. Professionally respond to them.
4. If the complaint is wacky, then be careful. You may have an employee on your hands who won’t accept your answer and may tempt you to fire them.