The federal Department of Labor said Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging that four of its employees in Kansas and Missouri were disciplined or received unsatisfactory performance appraisals for reporting workplace injuries.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, addresses separate instances of four employees working in different locations. The Labor Department alleges that Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. doing business as AT&T realiated against the employees after the workers reported they had been injured on the job.
Such retaliation is a violation of whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
The company maintains any discipline or lower performance ratings were a consequence of the employees violating safety regulations.
According to the lawsuit, the workers and their injuries are as follows:
“We believe the suit is without merit,” AT&T said in a statement e-mailed to The Eagle. “We’ve long been recognized as an employer of choice and are committed to full compliance with all federal and state laws, including workplace safety laws.”
AT&T spokesman Chris Lester said in the e-mail that the employees were disciplined for failing to follow safety regulations, not for reporting injuries. He added they were not suspended and didn’t lose any pay.
Lester also said that the company encourages employees to report injuries as part of its “Code of Business Conduct.”
The labor department said an investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration concluded that AT&T illegally disciplined the employees for reporting their injuries, not because of workplace violations.