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Subject I am a whistleblower. OSHA is mishandling my case because it's Gulf oil spill related
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Original Message In March of 2009 my aunt and I took jobs as housekeepers/condo cleaners for Meyer Real Estate in Gulf Shores, Alabama, one of the largest vacation property management companies in the United States. We had no experience in housekeeping. Prior to this, we had a vintage clothing business for many years which we had to close because we were no longer making a profit due to the economy. We both have college educations and my aunt has 20+ years experience in retail management, but this was the only job we could find. We took the jobs out of desperation...and because we were told in our orientation that we would make at least $16-18 dollars an hour.

Over the course of the next year, we would scrub 3,100 toilets, make approximately 6,000 beds and scrape dried spaghetti and shrimp shells from 1,200 kitchens. Most of the time we made less than minimum wage, sometimes working over 80 hours a week. Meyer also subjected their housekeepers to safety hazards. But we were warned by everyone there, including a field supervisor, to keep our mouths shut and not complain, or we would be fired.

In the early spring of 2010, we made a startling discovery- management was fraudulently altering time records to avoid paying overtime. We called the Wage and Hour Board and reported this, but rather than forcing them to pay their employees the money owed, Mr.Anthony Jacobs of the W&H Board's Mobile, AL office helped them devise a scheme to avoid paying their employees overtime wages. Meyer did, however, write checks for some of the overtime backpay- this multi-million dollar company cheated one housekeeper(a woman with a disabled child in a wheelchair) out of over $50,000 in overtime wages over a three-year period...they gave her a check for less than $500. But this was just the beginning.

April 20, 2010- the date of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill- changed everything here on the Gulf of Mexico. I won't go on and on about it...you all know the basic, sanitized version of what happened. What you may or may not know is that over 200 million gallons of oil was released into the Gulf. 2 million gallons of highly toxic Corexit dispersant was sprayed and sank most of that oil. We had dead baby dolphins covered in oil washing up on the shore here, but that managed to stay out of the national media. The citizens of this area and those doing clean up work were exposed to these toxins...people have died, and many are sick.

While many of the oil spill clean-up workers had advocates fighting for their safety and rights, there was one group which was neglected- the housekeepers who cleaned up the condominiums and beach front houses. As housekeepers for Meyer Real Estate, we were forced to clean up oil and dispersant soaked debris from around these beach houses. We had to clean up the tar balls the guests would drag in. We were instructed to clean it up with Dawn and bleach(according to the MSDS for Corexit on OSHA's website, it is hazardous to mix Corexit and bleach). We also had to clean the rust-colored Corexit residue on the exterior patio doors. Housekeepers started having upper respiratory problems, including my aunt. Both of my ear got infected(this was fairly common symptom) and one of them ruptured. But as Meyer housekeepers, we didn't have health insurance, and most of us went without medical treatment.

I called OSHA in late August of 2010 and filed a complaint. I told the agent I was concerned I might get fired for making the report, but he was very reassuring and told me if that happened, they wouldn't get away with it. A few weeks later, My aunt and I were terminated from our jobs at Meyer Real Estate.

But now, over a year later, what has happened? NOTHING! The investigation for wrongful termination under the Whistleblower Protection Act is still ongoing. OSHA has mishandled it from day one and I just don't know what to do. I can't even find a lawyer around here because every one I call says they can't take the case because it would be a conflict of interest. Meyer is a powerful and corrupt company...everyone is scared of them.

So, I'm posting this just to get the word out, and because I'm hoping some of you might have advice on what I can do about this situation. Sorry for the rant...I know it's not very coherent or well-written, but I am so sick of thinking and talking about this that I can't think straight. So, thanks for taking the time to read it.
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