The Texas Explosion and Employee Rights

According to one commentator, we can see the result of federal and state officials' reluctance to implement stronger employee protection statutes in West, Texas. Rather than allowing OSHA to make inspections at companies that could possibly prevent tragedies such as this from occurring, we expect whistleblowers to reveal that dangerous conditions exist at factories.

The commentator goes on to blame the dismantling of collective bargaining that he says was so greatly responsible for introducing more safety practices at the workplace. Specifically, he feels that states with the lowest union memberships have also been shown to have the greatest number of safety violations on the parts of employers.

The author may be overstating his case. However, it is certainly true that employees feel they are sticking their necks out if they reveal any possible safety violations on the part of their employer that may result in adverse publicity or financial cost to the company.

Attorneys that represent employees in whistleblower and retaliation cases have little control over what laws are or are not passed either in Texas or Washington, D.C. Still, what they can do is hold these companies accountable in court, and there make a public demonstration of a company's practices in relation to its employees.

Employees need to be rewarded rather than punished for alerting officials concerning illegal employment practices at companies. Though corporate officers and directors often have a great amount of money at their disposal, they can nevertheless be held liable for violating the law - just as anyone else.

Source: The Guardian, "Texas factory explosion: possibly preventable if not for work safety cuts," by Michael Paarlberg, April 22, 2013

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