Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA), employees in all workplaces have the right to file a claim against their employer to report unsafe or hazardous workplace conditions. Some employees file OSHA claims after they have suffered a serious injury at work as a result of a hazardous condition on-site. Florida follows federal OSHA laws and regulations when it comes to enforcing safety standards in the workplace and reviewing claims filed by employees.
A related issue that arises in many OSHA claims occurs when an employee contends that the employer retaliated against him or her in some way due to reporting an OSHA violation. An employer could engage in prohibited retaliation by:
- reducing shifts;
- reducing pay;
- terminating the employee;
- assigning the employee to less desirable duties;
- denying a promotion or raise;
- forcing the employee to work overtime;
- failing to pay the employee for overtime hours worked;
- relocating the employee to a new worksite;
- denying benefits;
- demoting the employee;
- harassing the employee;
- threatening the employee.
Employers could face additional penalties for these types of actions on top of any OSHA violations for which they are found liable.
As is the case with many employment law cases, the interplay of various aspects of this practice area is likely to appear in most OSHA claim disputes. It is immeasurably helpful at the outset of these cases to work with an experienced mediator in employment law topics. Doing so helps narrow the scope of the litigation and avoid unnecessary expenses if possible.
Advantages of resolving OSHA claims through mediation
In general, the mediation process allows all parties to an OSHA claim dispute to control more of the schedule and outcome than would be possible in a traditional court system or administrative hearings. While there is no guarantee that the parties will be able to reach an acceptable resolution at the end of the mediation process, the success rate for settlement negotiations in this forum is often higher than if the parties see the case all the way through litigation.
Let us help resolve your dispute and avoid expensive litigation.
Benefits of mediation over litigation.
- Flexibility: Parties are able to select a mutually agreeable date and time for mediation which they believe will be most productive for resolving their claims. In fact, the parties can choose to speak with the mediator in confidence during portions of the negotiation if they feel that it would facilitate or expedite productive settlement discussions.
- Voluntary and confidential: Both parties have to first agree to engage in the mediation process, which means that there is already a higher probability of reaching a successful resolution of the case than when the parties are forced to come to court to litigate. Additionally, all of the facts of the case and statements made during the mediation process are confidential and are not used in any other aspect of the case.
- Controlling the cost and duration of litigation: It is recommended that parties to OSHA claim disputes consider engaging in the mediation process as early as possible. This helps avoid the parties having to waste time and money in paying attorney's fees and court costs to pursue or defend against a claim all the way to the final outcome in court.
- Choosing your mediator: Although the parties to litigation may not be able to select the judge who will decide the outcome of their case, they can ensure that they choose a mediator who is well-versed in the subject matter at hand. This gives the parties to mediation greater confidence that the mediator will understand and analyze their issues in a way that brings the parties closer to an agreement to resolve the case.
- Settlement agreement not required: There is no requirement that the parties must agree to a settlement agreement in mediation. While it is the aim of every mediation process to guide the parties involved to a workable solution that avoids further litigation, there is no requirement that the parties must agree to a settlement that they are not happy with. This means that parties are able to engage in the mediation process as a risk-free exercise and are typically more willing to have a more meaningful conversation.
Call Broward County Mediator David S. Tupler at (954) 383-6577 today to schedule a convenient date to mediate your OSHA dispute case. Call early to reserve your preferred date and avoid conflicts with your case's scheduling order.