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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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In California is it lawful for a supervisor to discipline a

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In California is it lawful for a supervisor to discipline a worker even when they know they were breaking a Standard Operating Procedure by following their order and forwarned their boss to take a more safe procedure? My boss told me to fill a tanker trailer with Sulfuric Acid to 400 gallons over procedure thus causing the tanker to almost overflow. (nothing in procedure against this) I stopped the load prior to overfilling and only lost 1 to 2 gallons out of the loading spout (normal for this to drain and procedure doesn't exactly specify the quantitity to report to Ops. Super.)which was easily diluted with water. I explained to them I didn't report it because the procedure doesn't specify the amount so being when we change weak acid filters (5% acid content) we drain that much and believed that much as common practice. I also informed them that other employees have overflowed similar vessels with over 25 gallons of 99% Sulfuric Acid and got no suspension or even a written warning. I found this to be nothing more than malice and shift blaming. I was put on suspension till further notice but a few weeks ago put back to work. I believe they were trying to block my grievence for not getting promoted.
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Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

In the normal employment at-will context, it would be legal for an employer to discipline an employee for this reason, since an employer can discipline an employee at any time for any reason with or without prior notice.

However, as a union represented employee, you have additional rights, which you are rightfully pursuing through the grievance process.

In addition to the grievance, I would also suggest that you file an OSHA claim about the violation of the operating procedure.

You can file an OSHA claim using the insturctions available online here:

If you were terminated due to your complaint regarding the violation of Standard Operating PRocedure, you would also have a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Isn't there a law against causing a worker to do wrong? In this case I forewarned my boss and he could have created a serious hazard. When a near miss is written, the root cause is investigated and corrected in hopes of avoiding the problem in the future. Are you saying in an another example that if my employer told me to endanger my co-worker by doing an unsafe act I could still get written up for it and lose my job? I say that because what he told me to do was "at risk" behavior. I don't understand there to be any validity of what you conveyed to me. Seeing OSHA yes but the other no.





Yes, it is a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to cause an employer to do something that violates safety standards in the industry.

If you were to be disciplined or terminated for this, you would have a cause of action for 'whistleblowing' or wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

I'm not sure what you mean by there being no validity to what I conveyed to you. I'm conveying the law to you, not what I'd want the law to be.

I understand your frustration, but my job here is to inform you about the status of the law.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Your last reply became more clear about OSHA. Would reporting to them be more of a deterrant for future retaliation and would it possibly effect the present outcome? Legally speaking?

Please accept my apology with the "validity" uncetainty I wasn't sure if you understood the circumstance. You did expound more about OSHA after I said that which penetrated my thinking better. The law isn't perfect in everyone's way of thinking so it takes a pry bar to break away layers of bent up pride or frustration to arrive at truth.





Reporting them would primarily be a deterrant against future retaliation, but it would also strengthen your current case for 'whistleblower' retaliation, since there would be concrete proof that you did report the safety violation to OSHA.

Reporting the violation to an outside entity in addition to your employer would help demonstrate your concern about the safety issues and that you were unfailry disciplined for making your concern known.

No worries about the 'validity' comment.
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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