Michigan state workplace safety officials on Friday issued a citation to United Shore Financial Services – where at least 84 employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19 – for “failing to implement necessary precautions to protect employees” during the pandemic.
Pontiac-based United Shore, a major player in the mortgage industry, was fined $6,300 by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). United Shore was one of six companies cited by the state on Friday.
“The MIOSHA investigations determined that these six employers were clearly not taking the appropriate steps to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “These citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s duty. Precautions are necessary to establish and maintain a work environment where everyone can return home safe and healthy.”
After multiple employee complaints and reports from the Oakland County Health Department about COVID-19 outbreak among employees, MIOSHA found that United Shore:
- Allowed employees to work in a shared office space without wearing face coverings.
- Allowed employees to work within six feet of one another without face coverings.
- Allowed newly hired employees to meet in a large group in excess of 120 people without wearing face coverings while seated within six feet of one another.
- Did not notify employees within 24 hours of the employer learning an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 visited the office.
The Detroit Free Press reported last week that United Shore CEO Mat Ishbia told employees that the virus was not being spread at work:
“Would I be here every day if I thought there was something that was not safe here, no,” Ishbia said in a video released Friday to United Shore employees. “It is safer here than in a grocery store, a restaurant, Target.” …
“We’ve had a lot of positive cases, and we’re going to have a lot more, because you know what — that’s what happens in a pandemic,” Ishbia said in the company-wide video Friday. “The key is that it’s not being spread around here.”
Ishbia told the Free Press on Friday he would appeal the citation and fine.
“Absolutely not,” Ishbia told the Free Press when asked whether his company violated any facet of state coronavirus orders. “We have not done anything outside of the order at any point, and never will.”
But the state findings reflect complaints from employees, including those posted on the social media job site Glassdoor. Employees have reported that the United Shore headquarters is not safe, as employees are exposed to employees who tested positive and there is no meaningful cleaning or social distancing happening.
The complaints continued this week.
“(Ishbia) said that he wanted to keep his employees safe … yet, another lie,” an employee wrote on Glassdoor. “The third floor has everyone packed in there like sardines and so many people are getting Covid. AND NOBODY IS BEING TOLD ABOUT IT. Word gets around, people find out things and shame on you guys for not giving team members a heads up to get tested.”
United Shore has 15 working days to contest the violations and penalties.