In May of 2015, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulators fined the owner of a Montgomeryville factory, Lloyd Industries, $822,000 for repeated workplace safety violations.
About 10 months before those fines were imposed, a 21-year-old worker at the factory severed portions of several fingers when the steel-bending press he was using malfunctioned. After OSHA levied the fines against the factory’s owner, the owner apparently took his frustrations with OSHA out on the victim, his family and his co-workers.
First, the owner located his plant manager (who happened to be the grandfather of the young victim) and fired him. Then he fired the young victim. For good measure, he also fired the victim’s co-worker — for taking pictures of the accident. All three had provided evidence that was used in OSHA’s decision to fine the company for safety violations.
Whistleblower and wrongful termination filings filed by all three workers chronicled how their former employer had repeatedly been inspected, warned and cited by OSHA inspectors over the years. It wasn’t until photos of the one man’s injuries were turned over to OSHA and the three workers’ firings were reported to them that the fines were imposed.
Court filings in the matter revealed that the factory had been inspected at least five times between 2000 and 2014. Those visits generated as many as 7,000 pages in reports. In those, they showed that inspectors had grown increasingly concerned of workers’ exposure to noise, amputation and other potential life-threatening workplace hazards.
During their most recent investigation, OSHA became aware that as many as 40 workers had suffered serious injuries at the same facility since 2000. This is what resulted in the company being classified as a “severe violator”. Now, a U.S. District Judge in Philadelphia will ultimately be asked to render a decision as to what type of damages should be awarded for the retaliation the workers faced.
Whistleblowers are those who call the authorities’ attention to a company or individual’s improprieties, whether they are safety violations or something outright illegal (or both). Whistleblowers are protected by law from retaliation.
A workers’ compensation attorney may advise you of your right to medical care if you’ve been hurt on the job in Dauphin. They may also encourage you to file a Pennsylvania whistleblower lawsuit to protect yourself and others from being injured in the future.