Bloomberg’s Eidelson wins Sidney Award
The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced Wednesday that Josh Eidelson of Bloomberg Businessweek has won the September Sidney Award for “Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk.”
The story showed that major companies are covering up COVID-19 cases by forbidding staffers from disclosing that they or a coworker has tested positive.
Lindsay Ruck filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after her boss told her she wasn’t allowed to discuss the fact that a fellow employee at the Cheesecake Factory had tested positive for COVID-19. Workers have a legal right to be informed of workplace hazards, but the Board has no legal power to punish employers who violate this right with COVID-19 gag rules.
Many thousands of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaints have also been filed, yet only two have resulted in a citation.
Workers at Amazon, McDonald’s, Target, Cargill and other nationally known companies told Eidelson that they’d been ordered to stay quiet about COVID-19 cases in their ranks. Smithfield, General Electric and Urban Outfitters have racked up complaints to OSHA for doing the same thing. By the end of May, OSHA had received more than 1,600 whistleblower complaints related to COVID-19 as well.
“This investigation showed that COVID-19 gag orders are both common and illegal,” said Sidney judge Lindsay Beyerstein. “Yet, employers enjoy virtual legal impunity because enforcement is so weak. OSHA and the NLRB have failed to make companies obey the law.”
Eidelson covers the workplace for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek.