Maine stone crushing operation ordered to pay former employee $6,000 in back wages to resolve lawsuit
The Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced Tuesday that Ferraiolo Construction Inc. and owner-president John Ferraiolo, operators of the Portable Pioneer Plant in Thomaston, Maine, will provide $6,000 in compensation to a former employee and take other corrective action to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
The former employee, a general laborer at the stone-crushing plant, filed a complaint with MSHA in November 2011 alleging that the company had terminated his employment on Sept. 30, 2011, in retaliation for his having made recurring safety complaints.
According to MSHA, the administration’s investigation found that, among other actions, the complainant had refused to turn on the plant’s generator until required safety guards had been installed and calling MSHA to report the company’s failure to install those safety guards.
The complainant’s actions are protected under Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which states that miners, their representatives, and applicants for employment are protected from retaliation for engaging in safety or health-related activities, such as: identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections, or refusing to engage in unsafe acts.
The Labor Department filed a complaint with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission in May 2012, seeking back wages and other remedies on behalf of the complainant. Administrative Law Judge Patricia M. Rae has approved a settlement, which requires the defendants to:
Pay the wages lost on account of the discharge,
Expunge from their records any reference to the complainant’s termination,
Provide a neutral reference in response to any third party inquiries about the complainant,
Post a notice at the workplace that describes employees’ whistleblower rights, and
Refrain from discriminating against employees in the future.
The defendants are also required to pay a $10,000 civil money penalty to MSHA.
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