The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been cleared of charges that it fails to protect "whistle-blowers" who speak out about health and safety problems on the job, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday.
The Labor Department had been investigating Cal-OSHA over the whistle-blower allegations for several months. The probe was precipitated by complaints from Arnold Keith Gray of Indio, a former employee of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, who asserted that Cal-OSHA's program for protecting workers who speak out on occupational safety and health programs was not as effective as the federal OSHA program.
Gray told federal officials that he was harassed and later fired because he spoke out about dangerous conditions at the Eagle Mountain Pumping Plant where he worked.
A hearing officer employed by the state labor commissioner upheld Gray's complaint and ordered him rehired on two separate occasions as far back as 1979. However, the state took no action to force his reinstatement until earlier this year, when it filed suit on his behalf. That action was taken after Gray filed an official complaint against the state with the U.S. Department of Labor.