Disclosing Toxic Mold Exposure is Protected Whistleblowing Under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act
IFCO Services N.A. (IFCO) has agreed to pay $105,000 for violating Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it terminated Debra Walters, an office manager, for her disclosures about mold exposure.
When Ms. Walters alerted management to suspected mold behind filing cabinets, the company failed to take any corrective action. Ms. Walters then filed an anonymous complaint with OSHA, and OSHA notified IFCO of the complaint.
IFCO hired a contractor to sample the suspected mold, and the tests revealed significant active toxigenic mold growth on the wall behind the filing cabinets. Ms. Walters then complained about her continued to exposure to the mold and the company’s failure to remove all affected employees from that work space. Shortly thereafter, IFCO terminated Ms. Walter’s employment. Following an investigation OSHA brought a whistleblower retaliation complaint against IFCO under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Damages for Whistleblower Retaliation
IFCO has agreed to pay Ms. Walters back pay, front pay, and medical expenses. According to the consent judgement, IFCO also agreed to post at its worksite an OSHA document about job safety and to distribute to its employees an OSHA fact sheet titled Filing Whistleblower Complaints under Section 11(c) the OSH Act of 1970. And IFCO agreed to remove from its records any reference to the whistleblower’s involuntary discharge, place in its records a document reflecting that the whistleblower voluntarily resigned, and tell prospective employers that the whistleblower’s job performance was satisfactory.
To learn more about whistleblower rights and protections, contact Zuckerman Law at 202-262-8959.