Philadelphia set to be first U.S. city to protect workers against retaliation for calling out coronavirus conditions

City Council unanimously approved a bill Thursday morning that will make it illegal for employers to fire, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against workers who speak up about unsafe coronavirus conditions., according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The vote came during Council’s last session before summer recess and as employees in Philadelphia get called back to work during the city’s less-restrictive “yellow” reopening phase.

If signed by Mayor Jim Kenney, who has already expressed his support, Philadelphia will become the first big city in the country to give workers stronger legal protection against this kind of retaliation.

“This bill protects the most essential resource America has: the worker,” said Richard Hooker, head of UPS union Teamsters Local 623.

It’s a victory for the local labor community and an indication of what it can accomplish when sometimes disparate groups come together. The bill, which made it through the legislative process in a month, came out of a coalition of union and nonunion worker groups who were lobbying for pandemic worker protectionsMore than two dozen labor groups supported the bill, introduced by Councilmember Helen Gym.

New Jersey’s state legislature is considering a similar bill, backed by worker center Make the Road New Jersey.

A federal law already prohibits retaliation against workers who call out unsafe conditions, but the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a “very poor track record” of handling such complaints, said former OSHA official Debbie Berkowitz. In most cases, she said, the complaints are dismissed.

Melissa Bova, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, said her industry group recognized “the necessity of keeping guests and employees safe during this crisis.”

“Employees should feel safe in their workplace, and if safety measures and requirements are not being followed, that should be investigated,” she said, adding that the PRLA appreciated a change in the bill that said workers cannot refuse a work assignment if a city or state inspection finds a business compliant with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Share on Socials!

Related Articles

Related Articles

Going Beyond Dust Hazard Analysis

A safety expert walks agricultural and food processing companies through dust hazard analysis, NFPA 61 compliance, and leading options to address the risk of combustible dust ...
Read More

Build Your Resume and Contribute to Hearing Loss Prevention

Communication is key! We have two immediate openings that are critical for communicating to our NHCA members and the entire field of hearing conservation. This happens ...
Read More

EPA challenged over ‘weak’ emissions limits for chemical plants

EPA’s rule setting emissions limits for chemical plants will leave people in the surrounding areas exposed to an unacceptable level of cancer risk, according to environmental ...
Read More