DOL Files Whistleblower Suit Against New Jersey Cabinet Maker

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against Exclusive Decorators Inc., Interiors Furniture LLC, and its vice president, Garrett Ney, on behalf of an employee who was terminated in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act (Chao v. Exclusive Decorators Inc. et. al., Civil Action Number: 08-3312). The complaint alleges the employee was terminated after complaining to the employer about the lack of ventilation in the workplace. OSHA previously had cited the employer for ventilation violations and conducted an inspection of the worksite in response to a complaint about safety and health practices.

The former employee filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation by the defendants in violation of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act. OSHA investigated the complaint and determined it had merit. After being notified of OSHA's findings, the defendants refused to reinstate the employee to the same or a substantially equivalent position of employment, and declined to pay back wages or other employment benefits.

"Every employee should be free to exercise his or her rights under the law without fear of termination or retaliation by their employers," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "The Labor Department is committed to protecting those rights." Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the complaint seeks to reinstate the employee; secure compensatory damages, lost back pay and punitive damages; and require the company to post a notice in a prominent place for 60 days that explains employee rights under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act.

Exclusive Decorators Inc. specializes in manufacturing and installing wood cabinets and furniture. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.

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