Employment Law Daily US Steel settles suit over immediate reporting policy for worker injuries
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Monday, July 25, 2016

US Steel settles suit over immediate reporting policy for worker injuries

Under a settlement announced by the United Steelworkers (USW), United States Steel has agreed to rescind previously issued discipline of three USW members for "late reporting" of minor injuries suffered at work in separate incidents and to provide them full back pay with interest. The company will also roll back the immediate reporting policy that led to the discipline. The workers alleged, and the USW agreed, that they did not initially know they were injured and they reported the injuries as soon as they did know. With the union’s assistance, the three workers had filed complaints with OSHA. OSHA and the USW contended that the effect of US Steel’s late reporting policy was to impermissibly discourage injury reporting and to retaliate against those who did report. After a lengthy investigation, OSHA sided with the complainants. On February 17, 2016, the Labor Department filed a case against US Steel in the District of Delaware. The union said that it entered into negotiations with US Steel even before the DOL filed the case and that the department later joined in the negotiations. Policy changes. In addition to rescinding the discipline and providing back pay with interest to the affected workers, under the settlement agreement US Steel will replace its immediate injury reporting policy with a company-wide policy that provides for reporting only after an individual is aware of an injury. It also establishes what the union called "a similarly reasonable policy" for reporting other incidents, such as near misses. US Steel did not admit fault by entering into the settlement agreement. In a side agreement with the USW, US Steel also agreed not to use any discipline issued under the old policy in any future proceeding involving anyone in any of its plants, according to the union. The USW underscored the "important ramifications beyond the three disciplined union members." USW International Vice President Tom Conway said, "This is an excellent settlement. Not only does it give justice to three brave union members who stood up for their rights, but it will lead to more complete and accurate injury records and improved safety. This will benefit both the workers and the company."

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