Labor Department Sues Company Over Fired Worker

The Department of Labor sued Donald Pottern, doing business as Crown Furniture, for allegedly firing a worker who had filed a complaint.

The US. Department of Labor has filed suit Donald Pottern, doing business as Crown Furniture, for allegedly firing a worker who filed a safety complaint with OSHA. The furniture company is located in West Springfield, Mass. OSHA reports that the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Springfield, alleges there were various safety and health hazards in Crown Furniture's basement. The alleged hazards include the presence of asbestos, mold and rodents. The employee filed the complaint on May 9, 2011 and was discharged by the employer on May 11, 2011. Before firing his employee, Pottern questioned him as to why he filed the complaint. OSHA's subsequent investigation "found merit to the complaint."

The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives the department the right to file suit against employers who take action against employees in this manner, according to OSHA. This lawsuit seeks a payment of $20,000 in lost wages to the employee, interest, and payment of compensatory damages.

"Employees have a right to file a complaint with OSHA without fear of discharge or other forms of retaliation from their employer," said Robert Hooper, OSHA's acting regional administrator for New England. "Such retaliation can coerce workers into silence, preventing them from reporting or raising concerns about conditions that could injure, sicken, or kill them."

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