A Pennsylvania paper box manufacturer and its owner were ordered by a federal court to pay a whistleblower $13,000 because they mistakenly believed the worker filed a complaint with OSHA.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a consent judgment May 12 ordering Midvale Paper Box Company Inc. and its owner, David Frank, to pay the former employee over the wrongful termination.
Midvale must also:
- not violate the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act’s whistleblower provisions in the future
- train all managers and supervisors on workplace safety requirements and whistleblower protection rights
- post OSHA posters at the worksite that explain workplace safety requirements and whistleblower protection rights, and
- provide the former employee a written, neutral job reference.
Owner accuses wrong employee of filing complaint
In October 2017, an employee at Midvale filed a safety complaint with OSHA alleging that the company didn’t provide workers with PPE and lacked lockout/tagout procedures. The agency conducted an inspection and issued citations based on its findings.
After the inspection, Frank fired an employee who then filed a whistleblower complaint stating that they were wrongly terminated because the company and its owner mistakenly believed that the employee had filed the OSHA complaint.
OSHA investigated and found that Midvale violated the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act.
“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,” OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera said. “Midvale Paper Box Company and owner David Frank are being held accountable for violating this employee’s rights.”