The Bed Bug Whistleblower is Awarded Back Pay


A federal court ordered S.E.M. Villa II Inc., a nonprofit corporation that operates a retirement home in Milford, Ohio, to pay a former manager $20,000 in back pay. The former manager filed a complaint with the Clermont County General Health District alleging that S.E.M. Villa II was mishandling a bedbug infestation at the retirement home. S.E.M. Villa subsequently terminated the manager October 5, 2011. 

In addition to ordering back pay of $20,000, the federal magistrate judge ordered the company to remove all negative information related to the whistleblower's employment record and to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in the future. Further, the judge directed the retirement home to post OSHA educational notices for its employees. 

OSHA’s mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 directs employers to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for all of their employees. OSHA accomplishes its mandate by setting and enforcing safety and health standards. In addition, OSHA provides education, training and on-going assistance to America's workplaces.

Whistleblowing for safety and health

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces whistleblower protections of 22 various statutes for workers who disclose violations of workplace safety, food safety and environmental laws, among others. The statutes enforced by the program prohibit employers from retaliating against employees with adverse action such as: 

  • Intimidation
  • Reduction of hours or salary
  • Denial of overtime
  • Blacklisting
  • Firing
  • Demotion
  • Disciplining
  • Denial of benefits 

The breadth of the statutes enforced by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program extends from securities to environmental law. The following are the laws under the program’s authority:

  • Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA)
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA)
  • International Safe Container Act (ISCA)
  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)
  • National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA)
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Seaman's Protection Act
  • Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
  • Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA)
  • Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
  • Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21) 

Filing an action under OSHA’s whistleblower provisions can be complicated because of the various statutes under its authority.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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