Auto Parts Maker Settles Whistleblower Case

Thursday, October 20, 2016 @ 06:10 PM gHale

There is always a fine line between complaining and ensuring health and safety at a facility.

That appears to have been the situation in a case settled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a lawsuit against Lear Corp., doing business as Renosol Seating LLC, and three of its managers.

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Lear agreed in the settlement of the case to reinstate an employee it had fired for complaining about health conditions at its manufacturing plant in Selma, AL.

The manufacturer of automotive foam seating also agreed to compensate employees who had been suspended, post OSHA information about workers’ rights and whistleblower rights in the workplace, and to provide worker rights training to employees.

The company noted in the settlement that “it has made substantial upgrades at the Selma plant to the health and safety conditions in work facility spaces where employees are exposed to chemicals used in the foam-making process.

The joint motion said as part of a comprehensive settlement with multiple parties, the company agreed to do the following:
• Dismiss a lawsuit it had filed against an employee who had complained about health conditions at the plant, and whom the company had fired. Lear will also reinstate that employee to her former position.
• Purge the disciplinary actions from the personnel files of employees who had complained about the hazards.
• Compensate certain employees who had been suspended for the work time lost due to their suspensions.
• Post the OSHA Job Safety and Health poster and OSHA’s Fact Sheet: “Your Rights as a Whistleblower” in a conspicuous location in the workplace. The company will also provide a copy of the whistleblower rights fact sheet to all newly hired employees at its Selma facility for a period of three years.
• Allow OSHA to provide annual training regarding protected rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to all workers at the Selma plant for a period of three years.

“Our hope is that this case sends a clear message to employers that OSHA will use any and all methods at our disposal to protect workers’ right to raise safety complaints.” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “Every worker should feel comfortable raising concerns about work place hazards to their employer without the fear of retaliation. We are confident that the resolution of this case will help to facilitate a strong safety culture within this facility.”

“One of the department’s highest priorities is to protect the voices of workers who speak up about hazards at their workplaces, said Stanley E. Keen, regional solicitor in the department’s Atlanta office which litigated the case. “We will move swiftly to address instances of retaliation, as we did here. In this case, we obtained the first preliminary injunction ever sought under OSHA’s whistleblower provisions. The resolution of this case reflects significant improvements for employees at this employer’s facility.”

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