John Deere has signed a settlement agreement with OSHA, resolving a lawsuit centering around the anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
A pipefitter who was terminated from the company in 2012 will receive a total of $204,315 in back wages and "front pay" and $70,685 in other damages after reporting unsafe working conditions and filing a complaint with OSHA after John Deere failed to correct one of the unsafe conditions.
"The settlement of this case represents a true win for an employee who was willing to risk his job to ensure workplace safety for himself and his co-workers," said Kenneth Nishiyama Atha, regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago in a statement. "Commitment to workplace safety should be commended - not punished. The department will do everything in its power to prevent retaliation against workers who report unsafe working conditions."
The company did not admit liability in the case but has agreed to pay the pipefitter $111,512 in back wages, $92,803 in front pay, compensation in lieu of reinstatement, as well as $32,000 in compensatory damages and $38,685 in unspecified damages. The agreement allows for the company to make the payments in three installments to be paid in full by Jan. 31, 2018.
John Deere, which manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery as well as diesel engines used in heavy equipment and lawn care equipment, also agreed to post OSHA's Job Safety and Health: It's the Law poster , and OSHA Fact Sheet: Your Rights as a Whistleblower, in a conspicuous place at all its workplaces.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide information to their employer or the government under any of these laws. Employees who believe they are a victim of retaliation for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with OSHA's Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs.