(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com)– A Luzerne County business and its owner has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars to a former employee among other penalties by a federal court following an investigation by the Department of Labor.
According to the release, a consent judge filed in a PA federal district court has ordered Midvale Paper Box Company Inc. and owner, David Frank to pay an employee $13,000 for illegally firing the employee after mistakenly believing they had filed a safety complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
This all started back in October of 2017 when a Midvale Paper Box Company employee filed a complaint with OSHA that said the company didn’t give employees any kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) and lacked required lockout/tagout procedures.
That complaint was followed by a safety inspection by OSHA that resulted in the business being issued citations and the termination of an employee by Frank and the company that they believed filed the claim. the incident and was investigated.
A federal complaint was filed by the Department of Labor that alleged the former employee had their whistleblower rights violated as it is illegal for employers to take adverse action against an employee who files an OSHA safety complaint.
“Protecting the right of an employee to file a federal workplace safety complaint or participate in an OSHA inspection are critical components in OSHA’s mission,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera in Philadelphia. “Midvale Paper Box Company and owner David Frank are being held accountable for violating this employee’s rights.”
In addition to having to pay the former employee $13,000, Midvale Paper Box Company must also do the following:
- Not violate the OSH Act’s whistleblower provisions in the future.
- Train all management and supervisory employees on workplace safety requirements and whistleblower protection rights.
- Post OSHA posters at the worksite that explain workplace safety requirements and whistleblower protection rights.
- Provide the employee a written, neutral job reference.
The Department of Labor did not provide the name of the terminated employee as they do not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
For more information on whistle blower protections or the Occupational Safety and Health Actcheck out the Department of Labor’s website.