Ratted In

The U.S. Department of Labor has won a lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court against LOTO Services LLC and owner Allan R. Lochhead alleging they unlawfully terminated an employee of Aquatech Technologies Inc. for raising health concerns about rodent infestations at Aquatech's facility in Stuart, Fla. The case was based on an investigation by OSHA; its news release said LOTO Services LLC owns Aquatech Technologies, which does business as Aquatech Canvas & Consignment.

Judge K. Michael Moore permanently enjoined the defendants from violating the provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees for raising workplace safety and health concerns, and ordered the former employee to be paid $27,072 in back wages, $6,700 in expenses, and $414 in interest.

"OSHA will continue to ensure that every American worker has the right to report workplace hazards without fear of retaliation," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "This judgment is proof that the Labor Department will prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, employers found violating these basic worker rights."

According to the release, the employee reported rodents and rodent droppings to management and asked them to correct the problem. "Lochhead placed rodent traps in the office, but the problem continued. The employee complained again, but Lochhead indicated that there was no rodent problem, so the employee filed a health complaint with OSHA. One day after OSHA officials notified the company of the health complaint, the employee was terminated. The employee then submitted a whistleblower complaint, and OSHA's resulting investigation found merit to it," the release states.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes, including laws covering airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, health care reform, securities, food safety, motor vehicle safety, and consumer financial reform regulations. Information about employee whistleblower rights is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Oct 11, 2012