US Department of Labor sues American Bronze Foundry and orders
reinstatement of whistleblower fired for complaining about lead exposures
OSHA finds employer in violation of OSH Act's Section 11(c)
SANFORD, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor has sued American Bronze Foundry Inc., as well as owner Charles Wambold, co-owner Renee Wambold and manager Jennifer Schiffermiller, for allegedly terminating an employee who raised health concerns about potential lead overexposures at the foundry's principal place of business in Sanford. The lawsuit is based on an investigation by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration that found the firing violated the whistleblower provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The suit seeks to have the employee reinstated and paid back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages. Additionally, the suit requests that the employee's personnel records be expunged with respect to the matters at issue in this case, the employer be barred against future violations of the OSH Act by a permanent injunction and the court grant any other appropriate relief.
"America's workers have the right to raise health concerns regarding lead and other hazardous chemicals at any time with management and OSHA," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "OSHA is committed to holding employers accountable for retaliating against employees who engage in activities protected by the OSH Act."
The employee allegedly reported concerns to management about the lead content of the bronze used by American Bronze. Dissatisfied with management's response, the employee proceeded to file a health complaint with OSHA on April 5, 2010. The next day, OSHA notified American Bronze of the complaint and the alleged hazard. Upon entering the workplace on April 7, 2010, the employee was terminated. The employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which investigated and concluded that the company had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by the OSH Act.
The Labor Department is represented in court by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.
American Bronze Foundry is a privately owned bronze fine art foundry.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, health care reform, securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Tampa Area Office at 813-626-1177.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Solis v. American Bronze Foundry, et.al.
Civil Action File Number 6:12-cv-01100-GKS-TBSM.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.