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  • Discrimination in Wisconsin

    My husband has worked for a company (in Wisconsin) with several hundred employees for 10 years as a welder. Within the last two months several employees have been diagnosed with elevated blood levels of manganese which can lead to induced Parkinsons disease. The initial treatment advised by the Occupational Health Physician in each case has been to remove the employee from the weld shop and exposure to welding rod dust.
    The first three employees diagnosed were reassigned to another area of the plant. When my husband brought the doctors recommendation in to his supervisor, he was told there was no work in another area and was put on Workman's Comp (a 33 1/3 decrease in his income). His supervisor was angry and questioned why my husband was tested. He further stated that "this is going to ruin this company". Another employee was subsequently diagnosed (less than one week later) and he was reassigned to another area of the plant.
    My husband has no disability as a result of the manganese exposure that would prohibit him from working in another area. I have been told by a representative of the state of Wisconsin that my husband is not protected in any way because he is a 36 year old, while male, and he cannot consider this a discrimination for a disbility because other employees with the same diagnosis have been reassigned.

  • #2
    Wisconsin

    Employees in Wisconsin fall under the watchful eyes of the US Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA). While it will not fall under the category of discrimination, your husband has a right to file a complaint through OSHA. The regional office that is closest to you may be found at:
    http://www.osha.gov/oshdir/wi.html

    When contacting the office, your husband may file a complaint via telephone, e-mail or through a complaint form filed with the agency. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against a person making a complaint (a whistleblower). However, if you prefer, you may request that your complaint remain confidential from your employer.

    Upon receiving your complaint, OSHA will review the situation and potentially conduct an onsite inspection. If found that there is a problem, your husband's employer will be required to immediately remedy the situation, facing potential fines and even closure if it refuses.

    Also, if your husband talked with his supervisor as a representative of a group of coworkers, he is covered by the National Labor Relations Act. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a person or entity who is speaking on behalf of employees or several people speaking as a group regarding workplace issues. This type of activity is called "concerted activity". If your husband was doing just that, or if several persons, including your husband, spoke with their supervisor on a single issue, and his company then forced workers compensation on those who raised the issue, it could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. He, and the others, may file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. There is an NLRB office in Milwaukee. You can look for their telephone number by looking in your telephone directory under US government, National Labor Relations Board.

    Please let me know the results of your efforts in this area. Best of luck to you and your husband and his coworkers. Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator
    www.laborlawtalk.com

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