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US Department of Labor alleges pesticide manufacturer illegally terminated employee who filed safety complaint

26 March 2024

The US Department of Labor has filed a federal court complaint against a pesticide and agricultural chemical manufacturer in Georgia after the company allegedly terminated a worker's employment in retaliation for filing a safety and health complaint with the department.

Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the complaint proposes Avenger Products LLC and its parent company Kittrich Corp. pay the former customer service manager back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to address lost wages, other financial losses and emotional distress related to their termination and forbids the company from future retaliation permanently.

"Employers are required to comply with all applicable anti-retaliation laws, including those meant to ensure worker protection when raising health and safety concerns in the workplace under the OSH Act," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. "When employers retaliate against employees, the Department of Labor will not hesitate to use all enforcement tools available to stop this conduct."

OSHA alleges that Avenger Products violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act by ending the worker's employment because they exercised their rights protected under the act. A whistleblower investigation by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the employer terminated the employee after they made complaints about safety hazards associated with chemical exposures in the workplace.

"The employer's actions toward this worker and its response to concerns about the potential chemical exposure hazards to their workers are alarming," said OSHA Assistant Regional Administrator Lily Colón in Atlanta. "Retaliation by employers like Avenger Products against employees who exercise their protected rights under the law create in a chilling effect on the willingness of other employees to cooperate with federal safety investigations. This creates a culture of fear and a workplace rife with potential dangers. No worker should fear punishment by their employer for reporting legitimate safety and health concerns, and OSHA will work to vigorously defend courageous people like this employee."

Avenger Products LLC's history with OSHA includes a total of 40 citations and $254,189 in proposed penalties from June 2018 to December 2019.

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations within various industries.

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