A company fired an employee after she complained about mold in an office. Now a court judgment orders the employer to pay her $105,000 and take other action.
On April 8, 2014, the employee complained about possible mold behind some filing cabinets at IFCO Services N.A. Inc., a pallet company in Biglerville, PA.
When a week went by without the company taking any action, she also notified OSHA about the potential mold, and the agency contacted the company about the complaint.
IFCO hired an environmental health contractor to sample the mold. The contractor said there was significant active mold growth on the wall and remediation was required as quickly as possible. But IFCO didn’t remove the mold.
From April 8 to June 13, 2014, the employee complained about the mold several times. IFCO fired her on July 1, 2014.
The employee filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation for reporting the mold. The agency found IFCO violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
A consent judgment with OSHA says IFCO:
- will pay the employee $105,000 in total for back pay and to settle a workers’ comp claim
- will post the OSHA document, “Job Safety and Health, It’s the Law,” in a place where it’s prominently displayed to employees and distribute to each employee a two-page OSHA fact sheet, “Filing Whistleblower Complaints”
- will show an OSHA video on whistleblower rights to all employees and managers
- remove the employee’s involuntary discharge and disciplinary action taken against her from company records
- does not admit that it has violated any provisions of the OSH Act.
“IFCO’s refusal to take immediate action to eliminate what was confirmed to be a serious mold hazard left its employees at risk of developing a chronic health condition,” said Richard Mendelson, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various safety and other laws.