A Pennsylvania manufacturing company and its owner are the targets of a federal lawsuit that alleges they fired a worker who was hurt on the job after making two requests for protective equipment and being denied each time.

The U.S. Department of Labor sued the Midvale Paper Box Company of Luzerne County, Pa., and its owner David Frank in federal court in Scranton after the worker was fired.

The suit claims the defendants mistakenly believed the worker had initiated an OSHA safety inspection at the plant in October 2017.

OSHA said the inspection was prompted by a complaint—but not from the fired worker.

The complaint alleged several violations, including the company’s failure to provide personal protective equipment and that employees were forced to unjam machines without implementing required lockout/tagout procedures.

The fired worker, before being hurt while operating a shredder and bailer, had asked for safety gloves but the supervisor denied the requests, the lawsuit alleged.

Violations

“Employers who retaliate against workers for raising valid safety concerns are breaking the law and creating an unsafe work environment for all of their workers,” OSHA regional administrator Michael Rivera said in Philadelphia.

“Employees have a right to a safe and healthful workplace, and must never fear that reporting their concerns will cost them their jobs.”  

The Midvale Paper Box Co. is  contesting citations issued from the October 2017 inspection. 

OHSA assessed a proposed penalty of more than $200,000 for nine workplace safety violations, including one serious, two willful, and six repeat violations.

The employee filed a complaint with OSHA after being fired.

Protected Activities

OSHA concurred, concluding the company and Frank violated Section 11(c)(1) of the OSH Act when they fired the worker for involvement in protected activities.

The lawsuit also seeks to:

  • Prohibit defendants, their officers, agents, servants, and employees from any further violations of the provisions of Section 11 (c) of the act
  • Order the defendants to reinstate and pay the fired worker for all past and future lost wages that resulted from the firing
  • Order defendants to post for no less than 60 days a copy of the decree entered in this case and a notice that the defendants will not discriminate against any employee for engaging in activities protected by Section 11(c) of the act.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1900).