OSHA Sues Florida Canvas Manufacturer for Whistleblower Retaliation
April 19, 2012 - Comments Off
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a press release on April 17, 2012, announcing that it had filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against LOTO Services, LLC, for the purposes of this case doing business as Aquatech Canvas & Consignment. Aquatech specializes in the preparation, sale and installation of canvas, including covers for boats and upholstery. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of an employee who was terminated after he raised health concerns about rodent infestations at Aquatech’s facility in Stuart, Florida.
OSHA reports that the employee reported serious concerns to management regarding rodents and rodent droppings in the office, and requested correction of these unsanitary conditions. Aquatech’s owner, Allan R. Lochhead, placed rodent traps in the office, but the problem continued. The employee complained again, and after Lochhead indicated this time that there was no rodent problem, filed a health complaint with OSHA. One day after the company was notified of the health complaint by OSHA officials, the employee was terminated. The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which concluded that the company and Lochhead had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by Section 11(c) the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Cindy Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta, stated that “Retaliating against workers for raising health and safety concerns is a violation of federal law. Employers found violating these basic worker rights will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”