National COSH highlights retaliatory firings amid a pandemic

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Co-Executive Director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb discussed wrongful firings of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, employer retaliation and more on the Sept. 14 episode of America’s Work Force Union Podcast.

Who is the National COSH

Goldstein-Gelb works at the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). National COSH is a network of state and local COSH groups. Together, these groups advocate for safe working conditions, the ability to earn a living with dignity and to be able to return home safely each day.

She started out by mentioning the uptick in workers being fired for requesting a mask, reportedly feeling ill or suggesting ways their employer can help workers be more safe while working amidst a global pandemic.

OSHA falling short

As has been common with other recent guests, Goldstein-Gelb highlighted the shortcomings of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

She noted the statistic that found OSHA received 4,100 complaints of illegal retaliation during the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has equated to a 30 percent increase in complaints from last year.

She said that whistle-blower complaints for workers have always been weak, but a spotlight has been put on it thanks to the pandemic.

Goldstein-Gelb was sure to stress the need for action at a local and state level. If local and state governments initiate policy to investigate and punish employers for retaliatory firings, it may deter some businesses from doing it and keep more people working.

Finally, she discussed the implication of a complaint or investigation being ignored. She said these delays harm workers while also sending a message to workers that they need to stay silent or they can possibly lose their job too.


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