The Department of Labor (DOL) is suing a Pennsylvania manufacturer and its owner after they allegedly fired a worker who brought up safety concerns and asked several times for PPE to safely operate equipment.
Before the employee was injured while operating the equipment, a supervisor denied the worker’s multiple requests for safety gloves.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Midvale Paper Box Co. and its owner David Frank.
Through the lawsuit, DOL seeks to:
- prevent Frank and his company from violating whistleblower provisions
- order them to reinstate and pay the employee for all past and future lost wages resulting from the termination, and
- order them to post a notice stating that they will not discriminate against any employee for engaging in activities protected by whistleblower provisions.
Complaint leads to inspection
In October 2017, OSHA inspected the company’s facility in Luzerne County following a complaint that the company failed to provide PPE and lockout/tagout training, according to a DOL news release.
Following the inspection, the employee made two more requests for safety gloves and was allegedly denied both times. He was eventually fired, leading to him filing a complaint with OSHA.
DOL says the company “terminated the worker in retaliation for multiple requests for gloves, participating in OSHA’s safety investigation and their mistaken belief that the worker filed the safety complaint that initiated the investigation.”
Midvale Paper Box Co. is in the process of contesting citations and a proposed $200,000 fine from the 2017 inspection.