August 21, 2023
Department of Labor seeks reinstatement, back wages from Tyler pipe manufacturer that allegedly fired employee who raised safety concerns
Lawsuit claims Tyler Pipe Co. violated federal whistleblower protections
TYLER, TX – The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Tyler Pipe Company alleging violations of federal whistleblower protections after the company fired an employee because they requested to use a respirator to protect them from smoke and fumes in the work area.
The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation at Tyler Pipe Company after learning of the alleged October 2022 retaliation. The agency's Whistleblower Protection Program investigators in Dallas determined the company violated federal whistleblower protections by terminating an employee who exercised their protected rights to request personal protective equipment.
"Every worker is empowered with the right to speak up if they are concerned about their safety or that of others," explained OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas. "Rather than fulfilling their responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, Tyler Pipe Company terminated an employee who raised safety concerns and that is unacceptable."
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the department's complaint asks the court to order Tyler Pipe to make the employee whole for the illegal retaliation.
"The U.S. Department of Labor will enforce all laws to the extent of our power to ensure all protections afforded to employees are fully exercised," said Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater in Dallas.
Founded in the mid-1930s, Tyler Pipe Company manufactures pipes and related plumbing products. It operates an iron foundry in Tyler, and coupling and gasket manufacturing facility in Marshfield, Missouri. The employer has distribution centers in California and New Jersey. The company is a subsidiary of McWane Inc., a privately held family operated company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.
Learn more about OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs.
Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Release Number: 23-1766-DAL