A Pennsylvania folding paper box manufacturer and its owner are in trouble for terminating an employee they believe filed a safety complaint.
According to a Department of Labor release, the saga began in October 2017 when an employee of Midvale Paper Box Company Inc. filed a safety complaint with OSHA.
The complaint alleged that the company did not provide PPE and made employees unjam machines without required lockout/tagout procedures.
The claim led to an OSHA safety inspection and a proposed penalty of more than $200,000 for nine workplace safety violations.
The DOL said the worker who was terminated claimed they made three requests to Midvale for safety gloves. An injury to their hand occurred after the first request was denied, and the worker said the company also denied two subsequent requests.
Following the OSHA inspection, Midvale fired this worker. However, the terminated employee said they didn’t file the safety complaint. But it doesn’t matter who filed it because the OSH Act of 1970 forbids employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee who has filed any complaint.
The terminated employee filed a whistleblower claim, which prompted a Department of Labor investigation. The department filed a complaint, and a federal district court in Pennsylvania ordered Midvale and its owner, David Frank, to pay the terminated employee $13,000.
Midvale, which operates production and printing facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and California, must also display OSHA posters at its Pennsylvania worksite that explain safety requirements and whistleblower protection rights. They also have to write a neutral job reference for the terminated employee.