DOL Alleges Pesticide Manufacturer Retaliated Against Whistleblower

Pesticide Whistleblower

On March 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed a complaint in the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Avenger Products LLC and its holding company, Kittrich Corp., a pesticide and agricultural manufacturing company based in Lawrenceville. The DOL alleges that the company unlawfully retaliated against an employee who filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claiming chemical exposures that threatened the workplace and its employees.

OSHA initiated a whistleblower investigation which found that the company allegedly violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act , by ceasing employment after the whistleblower exercised their right to file a safety and health complaint with the department. Notably, Avenger Products LLC has a track history of OSHA violations that amount to 40 citations and $254,189 in penalties between June 2018 and December 2019. 

Lily Colón, OSHA Assistant Regional Administrator, states, “The employer’s actions toward this worker and its response to concerns about the potential chemical exposure hazards to their workers are alarming.” 

The DOL is seeking for Avengers Products and Kittrick Corp. to have to pay the whistleblower back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to address lost wages, other financial losses and emotional distress related to their termination.

“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.”

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must comply with safety and health standards for their employees. The OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program ensures employees are safeguarded when reporting misconduct. This program enforces anti-retaliation provisions of more than twenty different whistleblower laws prohibiting employers from discharging whistleblowers in various industries. 

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